ALEX DUNBAR may have played just 40 minutes of rugby in the last six weeks, but the 24-year-old centre says there is no danger of him going into Saturday evening’s clash with Argentina undercooked.
The Glasgow centre picked up a seemingly innocuous dead leg at training in September but ended up missing his club’s next five games. He then suffered an ankle injury in the opening few minutes of his comeback against Montpellier in the European Champions Cup and had to be replaced at half-time. Given that he also missed Scotland’s summer tour after tearing his hip flexor during last year’s Pro 12 Grand Final defeat by Leinster, it has been a frustrating few months, especially after a year in which he established himself in the Scotland midfield.
Dunbar believes his injury woes are now behind him and is determined to make up for lost time when he lines up at inside centre against the Pumas.
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He said: “I was disappointed to pick up that [dead leg] injury as I thought I was going well at the start of the season. But I feel good now. I feel quite sharp coming into this,” he said.
“I was training towards the end of last week in Newcastle and we had a session up here on Friday so I have been training with everybody.”
Saturday’s midfield is an all-Glasgow affair and Dunbar is the most experienced player, despite only having eight caps and having made his debut against Samoa in June 2013. Finn Russell, who is set to start at stand-off, has played only twice for Scotland, against relative minnows USA and Canada in the summer, while new cap Mark Bennett is at outside centre.
The triumvirate is untested at this level but, on the plus side, they have trained and played together on a weekly basis at club level for the last two years, and that could prove crucial in what promises to be a key battleground on Saturday.
Dunbar added: “They [Argentina] can play some exciting rugby and they are quite direct. They look to offload and, if given the chance, can rip you to shreds. They have a back division we need to shut down and limit their options.
“In years gone by, they were more forward dominant. They still are but have a lot more to their game now. They have some exciting backs and we know we have to be focused in what we do on Saturday.”
“We want to play with a high tempo. It is all about stretching defences and putting them under pressure. The best way to do that is with quick ball and if we can stop them at the breakdown it will make it a lot easier for us to get on the front foot and create opportunities.
“Hopefully we can start well and silence the forwards. We have some exciting young players out wide and we want to get the crowd off our seats and create a great atmosphere.”
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