Rugby: Low has high opinion of Japanese as Scots prepare

MORAY LOW returns to Scotland rugby colours against a Japan Select at Murrayfield tonight having done his homework on the tourists and warning of the need to avoid a "banana skin".

A knee cartilage operation after facing France at the start of the Six Nations Championship has meant the 25-year-old prop forward being absent from the international scene but, now back in the frame, he has been leaving nothing to chance including taking a trip to Malleny Park last week to watch the Japanese tackle Scotland's club champions Currie.

"I went along partly to support my flat-mate, Chris Kinloch, who was guesting for Currie from Glasgow, but also to run the rule over tonight's opposition," said Low of a match in which Scotland will look to run through a variety of moves in readiness for the two Test tour of Argentina for which they fly out at the weekend.

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He added: "Tonight's match does have the potential to be a banana skin because the Japanese will have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain."

Those who scoff at the idea of a team essentially preparing for the 2015 World Cup being able to upset an experienced Scotland starting line-up capped in every position would do well to note that such upsets DO happen.

Back in 1991, preparing for a World Cup, Scotland ventured out against Edinburgh Borderers and lost, albeit minds were then concentrated to the extent a semi-final was eventually reached.

Low was only seven years old when that embarrassment occurred and he bases any apprehension now on what he saw at Currie, remarking: "This Japanese side play with their hearts on their sleeves and put in a full 80-minute shift without seeming to pause for a rest at any time.

"There were signs they run off each other well and their pack in particular impressed.

"Not many teams get change out of Currie's forwards, certainly not at premiership level, but Japan showed their pack are coming up to the high standards normally associated with their back division.

"The No.8 (Shinozuka) was especially good at putting himself about and they all loved to fly in to the rucks.

"Defence-wise Japan rushed up blitz-style and that is something we will be looking to exploit."

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Dusting off moves and getting members of the squad match hardened is really what the exercise is about before heading off to Argentina on a tour which Low is particularly keen to share in after being forced to withdraw from the party which played in Rosario and Buenos Aires two years ago.

Subsequently he faced the Pumas at Murrayfield last November and hopes to draw on that experience.

"I learned first hand why Argentina have a reputation for being very powerful up front," recalled Low of a game Scotland lost.

This time round it is British Lion Euan Murray who has had to pull out putting Low back into the front line.

It is an opportunity he welcomes, saying: "There are few better places to go if a prop wants to show he can't be dominated and is able to disrupt the opposition scrum.

"Scrummaging is one of the arts they are good at so it is up to us to get in their faces."

Low will also be a role model for the one uncapped tourist – Edinburgh utility back Jim Thomson.

Back in 2006 Low was one of those pioneers who helped establish the Scottish clubs' international team and when he made a senior debut three years later he became the only player – so far – to appear at both levels.

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Before this month is out, though, that distinction could be shared by Thomson and Low, who feels a clubs' cap helped to stand him in good stead for stiffer tests.

"I had no idea until you told me I'm the only club internationalist to go all the way through the system.

"It was especially welcome as I didn't play for Scotland at any of the age group levels below under-21s.

"There's no doubt it was a stepping stone to where I am today which is preparing to give Scotland a solid springboard against Japan before going off on tour ourselves."

Scotland XV

15 Southwell (Stade Francais)

14 S Lamont (Scarlets)

13 N De Luca (Edinburgh)

12 Grove (Worcester)

11 Danielli (Ulster)

10 Godman (Edinburgh)

9 M Blair (Edinburgh) (c)

1 Jacobsen (Edinburgh)

2 Ford (Edinburgh)

3 Low (Glasgow)

4 Gray (Glasgow)

5 J Hamilton (Edinburgh)

6 Vernon (Glasgow)

8 Beattie (Glasgow)

7 Brown (Glasgow)


F Thompson

G Cross




M Evans

J Thomson