Jon Welsh: Team spirit to give Scots World Cup lift

SCOTLAND prop Jon Welsh hopes the team which laughs together will win together when the Dark Blues kick-off their World Cup campaign.

Jon Welsh trains at Scotstoun with the Scotland squad. Picture: SNS
Jon Welsh trains at Scotstoun with the Scotland squad. Picture: SNS
Jon Welsh trains at Scotstoun with the Scotland squad. Picture: SNS

The Newcastle-bound front-rower has been declared the Scots prankster-in-chief by his team-mates after they were forced to spend a two-month training camp putting up with his japes.

With his antics ranging from cutting dressing-room put-downs to leaping out on unsuspecting victims and leaving them scared witless with a high-pitched screech, there is never a dull moment with the 28-year-old around.

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But Welsh insists he is not the only member of Vern Cotter’s 31-man squad keeping spirits high.

And he says the high-jinx are just what the team need if they are to see their way through their Pool B fixtures to the quarter-finals.

He said: “It’s not just me. There’s plenty of the pranksters in this side, don’t worry about that.

“We’re all a good bunch of lads and I’m sure every sports team in the world will have seen the types of pranks we get up to in their changing room.

“You need that sort of thing to see you through the camp. We’re together for a long time so you need something to keep you going. It helps lighten the mood and that is vital when the pressure is on.

“When we’re about the team hotel we’ll go for dinner or coffees and the craic is always there.

“There’s a lot of frights getting dished out as well as the general dressing-room banter most folk will have experienced. Ryan Wilson, Henry Pyrgos and guys like that love a laugh and a joke. There’s a few who are not so good at taking it. I won’t say who they are in case I get confronted.”

Cotter will hope that team unity is evident when the Scots get their tournament underway against Japan at Gloucester’s Kingsholm Stadium on September 23.

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But right now, Welsh is glad to see no inch being given on the training field as the players battle for a starting slot.

The 28-year-old former Glasgow player said: “The competition for places right now is good. We’re a close-knit bunch and get on really well and I think that helps it, because every training session is just so intense. Everyone is giving it their all.

“We sometimes play a 20-minute game after a team session where the game is live. It’s like a real game with the ferocity of the tackles and the intensity that it is carried out at.

“It never flares up though. It’s obviously a physical sport and there are always going to be bumps and knocks at training. But we are all men, all professionals and we just get on with it.”

Just six members of the Scottish travelling party - Al Dickinson, Ross Ford, Richie Gray, Al Strokosch, Richie Vernon and Sean Lamont - have tasted a World Cup previously.

And Welsh says the new-comers to the party have been tapping into the group elders for inspiration.

The seven-cap forward said: “The likes of Sean and Fordy who are really good professionals in terms of their training and preparation. Fordy, for example, comes in and everything from his work on the training pitch to his diet is precise.

“You can see that he has been involved in the game at this level for a long time. It’s good because everyone else picks up off of that and feeds from it.”