Rugby: Rory backs Kellock as team captain

RORY LAWSON today gave his backing to Al Kellock after the Glasgow second row pipped him for the captaincy of Scotland’s rugby World Cup squad.

Having led Scotland to wins in all three games in which he has held the reins – South Africa and Samoa last autumn and Ireland just over a fortnight ago – scrum-half Lawson was undoubtedly a strong contender for the post.

But Kellock got the nod with coach Andy Robinson stressing he will also be looking to a leadership group comprising tried and trusted players.

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Lawson undoubtedly comes into that category, albeit he faces particularly strong competition at No 9 from Mike Blair and Chris Cusiter, and he echoed those remarks, saying: “We have leaders throughout the team. Al has obviously been named as the figurehead of the squad. That’s fantastic and there are huge roles for everyone in supporting him and moving forward.”

Joining Lawson on the plane will be two other members of the Gloucester club – Scott Lawson and Al Strokosch – meaning the Scottish contingent easily outnumber England’s representation at the Kingsholm Park outfit which solely comprises Mike Tindall.

The irony of that situation isn’t lost on Lawson, especially with England in the same group. But in choosing to focus on the bigger picture he says establishing an initial training camp on Australia’s Gold Coast gives Scotland an advantage.

“The fact we are flying into New Zealand so close to our first game means the energy and excitement will be really fresh and hopefully we can hit the ground running. There are a lot of people travelling from Scotland and the aim is to persuade the locals to back us also.”

While Rory toured New Zealand with a combined Scottish Schools/Youth team in 1999, for namesake Scott Lawson it will be a first experience of the “land of the long white cloud”.

But new experiences have previously brought something special from the 28 cap hooker who recalls:

“I got a try on my debut away to Romania in 2005 and I also scored on my World Cup debut against Portugal in the previous tournament.

“Playing in a World Cup in New Zealand as a rugby player is one of the most special things you can do. Without doubt we can match anyone in the pool.

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“Georgia and Romania first are a huge test, but we do have a little bit of momentum.

“It is quite strange the first games we play being internationals, but it is the same for everyone.

“Now it is about giving the coaches selection headaches. You can’t control what they pick, but you can try and influence.”