Scotland v Japan: Kellock feels heat of new boys

Al Kellock has welcomed the renewed competition for places in the Scotland squad. Picture: SNS
Al Kellock has welcomed the renewed competition for places in the Scotland squad. Picture: SNS
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SCOTLAND second row Alastair Kellock has lauded the young players turning up the heat on him and other senior internationalists, insisting that it will ensure there is no complacency ahead of today’s opening Autumn Test match with Japan at Murrayfield.

The 32-year-old wins his 56th cap in a relatively new second-row pairing with Tim Swinson, albeit one that has been central to Glasgow’s arrival among the top RaboDirect PRO12 sides over the past year. Swinson made his Test debut in South Africa in June, following on the heels of Edinburgh youngster Grant Gilchrist. Jonny Gray, the younger brother of British and Irish Lion Richie – who starts on the bench – is also now in the Scotland mix and pushing for a place along with Montpellier’s Jim Hamilton.

“The simple fact is that with that level of competition, if you don’t perform well in this game it may be your last,” said Kellock. “The competition [at second row] has always been reasonably healthy. When I first came through we had Scott Murray, Stuart Grimes, Nathan Hines and Jason White, and myself and Jim have had a fairly good rivalry in recent years, on and off the park!

“But we’re now looking back and seeing these young lads coming up, and they are doing very well, but I use that to push me forward. They are here on merit. Jonny Gray, for example, has been exceptionally good for Glasgow and I’m sure he will get an opportunity over the next couple of weeks to show what he can do, so the guys playing against Japan have to perform.

“That goes for everybody,” he added. “Our performance shouldn’t differ from New Zealand, South Africa and Australia to Japan. We have to be aiming for the same high standards. It’s important to put in a performance to get some momentum going, but this is about playing well to win this weekend.”

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