Smith'S Scots Hunt Japan Boost

The countdown to the 2011 IRB Junior World Championship begins in earnest when Scotland under-20A take on Japan under-20 on Murrayfield's back pitches tomorrow (kick-off 3pm).

The shadow under-20 side, overseen by Phil Smith, John Dalziel and Iain Monaghan, features a number of players who saw service in the recent 6 Nations Championship, as well as several new prospects.

The countdown to the 2011 IRB Junior World Championship begins in earnest when Scotland under-20A take on Japan under-20 on Murrayfield's back pitches tomorrow (kick-off 3pm).

The shadow under-20 side, overseen by Phil Smith, John Dalziel and Iain Monaghan, features a number of players who saw service in the recent 6 Nations Championship, as well as several new prospects.

Shared by all these performers is a desire to earn selection for the global gathering in Italy which begins in early June and will pit Scotland under-20 against their counterparts from England, Ireland and South Africa at the pool stage.

Tomorrow’s match is the culmination of a three-match Scottish tour for the Japanese, who have seen off Stirling County and a West of Scotland XV over the past week.

Scotland under-20A head coach Smith today warned his charges to expect a tough encounter, but encouraged them to grasp the opportunity the game represents.

He said: “This match is an excellent one for our guys to be part of, and there are a number of reasons for that.

“First and foremost, it’s a chance for them to come together and produce a winning performance for their country, and then there’s the carrot of the IRB Junior World Championship which I’m sure is something they’d all love to experience.

“We’ve said all along to the players that, selection-wise, there are decisions still to be made ahead of that tournament. One of the ways they can put their hand up is to impress in this match, not least because we know the Japanese have the ability to make life hard for us with what is a really dynamic approach."

The pack for tomorrow’s match sees an intriguing mix of players capped in the spring, such as Nick Fraser, Richard Ferguson, Andy Kirkland, Lawrie Seydak and Grant Runciman, plus promising talents like lock Andy Redmayne and No.8 Jamie Swanson.

Racing Metro 92 stand-off Fraser Gillies and Melrose scrum-half Bruce Colvin start at half-back, with the latter’s Greenyards clubmate Craig Jackson forming a centre pairing with Gala prospect Lee Millar.

Jamie Forbes of Watsonians lines up at full-back, with Glasgow Hawks’ Tom Steven and Team Northumbria winger Harry Mountain completing the back three.

Smith confirmed: “We feel there’s a good balance to the team overall and to individual units of the side like the back row. We’ve not had a massive amount of time together, so ours will be a simple game plan that puts the onus on the players to back their own ability and deliver what we know they can.”

SCOTLAND UNDER-20A TEAM TO PLAY JAPAN UNDER-20 ON THE MURRAYFIELD BACK PITCHES ON WEDNESDAY 20 APRIL, KICK-0FF 3PM

15 Jamie Forbes (Watsonians)

14 Tom Steven (Glasgow Hawks)
13 Lee Millar (Gala)
12 Craig Jackson (Melrose)
11 Harry Mountain (Team Northumbria)

10 Fraser Gillies (Racing Metro 92)
9 Bruce Colvin (Melrose)

1 Nick Fraser (Boroughmuir)
2 Richard Ferguson (Melrose)
3 Alex Allan (Loughborough University)
4 Andy Redmayne (Dundee HSFP)
5 Andy Kirkland (Glasgow Hawks)
6 Lawrie Seydak (Heriot’s)
7 Grant Runciman (Melrose)
8 Jamie Swanson (Boroughmuir)

SUBSTITUTES

16 Greg Jones (Boroughmuir)
17 Chris Keen (Kelso)
18 Gary Graham (Gala)
19 Cammy Orr (Boroughmuir)
20 Andrew Nagle (Jed-Forest)
21 Steven Turnbull (Hamilton)
22 Gregor Hunter (Edinburgh/Heriot’s)

Unavailable due to injury: Harris Jones (Boroughmuir) - hamstring