Ryan Wilson spurred on by Scotland back-row challenge

Scotland and Glasgow's Ryan Wilson. Picture: SNS
Scotland and Glasgow's Ryan Wilson. Picture: SNS
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Ryan Wilson admits he has been forced to re-double his efforts after the emergence of Scotland’s rookie back-rowers.

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The Edinburgh duo of Hamish Watson and Magnus Bradbury have both grasped the opportunities handed to them by Vern Cotter during this month’s Test clashes.

Watson made his first Test start during the narrow 23-22 loss to Australia two weeks ago and impressed enough to retain his place against Argentina on Saturday.

And he was joined in the side for the 19-16 win over the Pumas by debutant flanker Bradbury, who also managed to make an impression amid a scrappy clash.

Their performances will have cheered head coach Cotter, who is currently without the influential back-row trio of Josh Strauss, David Denton and John Hardie due to injuries.

But Glasgow forward Wilson knows he will have his work cut out to fight his way back into the New Zealander’s plans.

Wilson had to be content with a place on the bench against Argentina despite making a swift recovery from the ankle cut which forced him off just four minutes into the Wallabies clash.

The 27-year-old had nothing but praise for his younger colleagues but has told them he will not relinquish his jersey without a fight.

Wilson said: “We’re bringing through plenty of back-rows right now and we’re all pushing each other on.

“Magnus did fantastic at the weekend when he played. That’s just credit to the depth Scottish rugby is bringing through.

“It certainly [spurs you on] when you see someone coming through and pushing you that bit more.

“It pushes you in training and means you’ve got to work harder. You can never rest on your laurels here. You’ve got to keep working to keep that shirt on your back.

“The depth throughout the squad is growing and growing. Every season there is another couple of players who come in and do so well.

“It’s credit to the Scottish mentality that when you get your chance, you take it. Every one of the new boys who have come in to the squad have done that.”

Whoever gets the nod this weekend when the Scots close their November schedule against Georgia at Kilmarnock’s Rugby Park will have to be ready to put their body on the line.

The heavyweight Lelos reaffirmed their growing reputation by shooting down Samoa 20-16 at the weekend.

Their muscular pack did the damage to the Pacific Islanders and Wilson warned Scotland will have to match their opponents blow for blow if they are to avoid suffering the same fate.

“We’ve got a big challenge ahead of us,” he said. “They are a good team with a good set-piece.

“They are on the right track. They are doing well.

“They have had a good few results recently and got a win over Samoa at the weekend. They are definitely on the up.

“They scored with a penalty try and another push-over try at the weekend so they have set their stall out in terms of how they play.

“It’s something we have looked at and something we have focused on. We will need a big performance from our pack.”

Georgia will provide Cotter with one last chance to fine-tune his line-up ahead of the New Zealander’s final RBS 6 Nations campaign in charge of Scotland.

He will be replaced by Gregor Townsend next summer but before that Wilson is hoping to give Cotter a warm send-off with a positive Championships display.

And he believes victory over Georgia would ensure the team starts the farewell tour in confident mood.

He said: “It’s really important that we get another win. After a good win over Argentina we want to carry that on.

“We’re always looking ahead to the next tournament and the Six Nations is huge for us this year.

“But we will deal with it one game at a time and that means only looking to Georgia this week. When we played the Aussies they were our only concern and that was the same with the Argies. We just need to make sure we go well this week.”

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