Centre Alex Dunbar is confident that Scotland’s backs can make the difference and help them win what is anticipated to be a brutal forwards battle with Georgia in Kilmarnock this Saturday afternoon.
The grizzled Georgian pack, who are led by Toulon star Mamuka Gorgodze, are expected to go toe-to-toe with the Scottish eight but the Glasgow midfielder is sure the hosts have the beating of the tourists out wide.
“We’ve got very dangerous backs so it’s up to us to get the ball out wide to these guys and create some chances,” said the 26-year-old former Annan and Selkirk player.
“They have some dangerous runners. They play very direct. We’ll have to be on the top of our game, start well and put them under a bit of pressure. When we defend well and put teams under pressure we get some good outcomes.
“We have a very dangerous back three and when we throw the ball about we can cause teams problems. We need to do the basics well and give these boys a chance.”
Dunbar has formed an excellent partnership with new boy Huw Jones but may have a new No 13 outside him at Rugby Park with the Stormers man receiving treatment on a foot injury he sustained while creating Sean Maitland’s try in Saturday’s 19-16 win over Argentina.
Dunbar has enjoyed playing with Jones but is used to midfield rotation for club and country and is comfortable playing alongside any of Scotland’s growing pool of class centres.
“It’s been good playing with Huw,” said Dunbar. “I hadn’t played with him until a couple of weeks ago. He’s got good feet, pace and hands.
“It’s good playing inside him, he’s constantly talking and helps organise stuff when people are getting tired. Communication is the most important thing. If you’re always talking then you know where each other is going to be.”
Greig Laidlaw said yesterday that he felt the artificial surface at Rugby Park could assist Scotland in putting pace in the game and negating the Georgians’ heft up front and Dunbar said he is comfortable playing on them, with the Warriors now also boasting a 3G pitch.
Glasgow played a couple of times at the Kilmarnock FC ground when Scotstoun was waterlogged last winter, registering wins over Munster and Racing 92, and Dunbar scored a try at the venue on the other occasion Scotland played there – a 37-12 win over Tonga in the 2014 autumn series.
“We’ve played on enough pitches now to know how to play our own style,” said the centre. “Obviously Scotstoun is finally bedded in and playing well now. There are little differences for the back three, the ball bounces slightly different. Sometimes it kicks on and bounces higher.
“There are just small changes. For us guys in the middle and the forwards it’s not much different. Most pitches are good quality these days.”