Fraser Brown: Ready to defend
As Scotland’s first Rugby World Cup 2019 match approaches, hooker Fraser Brown shares his thoughts on the threat posed by Ireland and his return from injury.
Having made his Scotland debut on the 2013 summer tour of South Africa, Fraser Brown has gone on to earn 42 caps for his country. An injury sustained during the Guinness PRO14 final ruled him out of Scotland’s home and away matches against France and Georgia, but Brown has been training fully over the last couple of weeks and is relishing the prospect of a return to the international Test match arena.
On how important Scotland’s defence will be against Ireland on Saturday:
“The trend in rugby at the minute has gone towards defences managing to shut down games. Particularly this week, with Ireland, they tend to have a lot of possession, so you know you are going to make a lot of tackles and your defence has got to be spot-on.
“We’ve had games against (the Irish) provinces and Ireland where, as a team, we’ve been making well over 200 tackles, so we know how big a challenge that will be this week. It is important we get our systems in place and get guys in the right frame of mind, ready to defend for long periods.
“Ireland do like keeping hold of the ball. They are not afraid to go through 10, 15, or 20 phases to get either a half-break or a penalty advantage to try to get field position. If we allow them to control the game and the ball, then obviously we will have to defend for long periods.”
On whether the wet-weather forecast will affect Scotland’s game plan:
“We back our skills in any conditions - dry or wet. We’re a highly-skilled team with guys right across the pitch who can play with the ball, carry well, and clean well. It probably won’t affect us too much. Ireland might keep it a bit tighter.
“Both teams would probably kick the ball a bit more and try to flip the field and put pressure on the other team in their half. That is generally the trend in rugby at the minute. When the weather sets in, teams try to play in the opposition half because it is the best way of putting pressure on them.”
On how he will cope with playing his first game since late May after a foot injury:
“I’m pretty confident. We all had one-on-one meetings with the coaches earlier in the week. I’m in the right place to be able to play and perform. It’s not the first time in the last couple of years that I’ve had to come straight back into a big game and play.
“The best thing for me has been being able to train fully for the past couple of weeks - that is where you get your sharpness from, those relationships with other players, and getting back into the systems. I get my confidence from training rather than playing, so I’m fully confident that if I play this weekend, then I’m good to go.”
On targeting the Irish lineout:
“If you can get into a team’s set-piece then it gives you a good foothold into the game. So whether it’s Ireland, Japan, Samoa, whoever, it’s a huge area. We’ve been particularly good at pressuring the opposition’s set piece – particularly at the lineout – in the past couple of years.
“The second-rows and back-rows work really hard on trying to get in the air and put pressure on and shut down teams. So it’s something we’re looking to target, but we do that every game. If you can disrupt teams at source, then it’s very difficult for them to get into their game-plan.”