Why George Horne’s Scotland starting stats put him in the frame for Japan

George Horne has begun only three games for Scotland but bagged a hat-trick and a try double on his last two starts.

Scotland scrum-half George Horne in the thick of the action against Australia at BT Murrayfield. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

It’s an impressive strike-rate and the 26-year-old would love to get the nod to face Japan this Saturday after second-half cameos against Australia and South Africa.

Horne admits it can be tough to come off the bench and have an impact and that was the case against the Springboks when he replaced Ali Price in the final ten minutes.

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The match at Murrayfield was already slipping away and the world champions are past masters at closing things out.

George Horne scored a hat-trick on his last start for Scotland, against Russia at the Rugby World Cup in 2019. (Photo by Gary Hutchison / SNS Group)

Japan will be a different test altogether and the visitors’ high tempo should suit Horne who is itching to be involved.

“You want to be starting the games, but it’s not up to me,” he said. “Hopefully I can get a start, but if I’m coming off the bench I just want to get on there and play for Scotland and play as well as I can.

“A fast-paced, high tempo game suits me personally. I think it’s also what Scotland are trying to play, attack at speed and take the space whether that is wide or through the middle. But we know the challenge we are going to face. Japan are really good at what they do so hopefully it will be an entertaining game.”

You have to go back to the 2019 Rugby World Cup for Horne’s last start and he certainly made the most of it, scoring three tries in the 61-0 win over Russia in Shizuoka. He also bagged a couple in the memorable 44-15 victory against Argentina in Resistencia the year before in what was only his second Scotland appearance, a week after his debut versus the United States in Houston. His other 13 appearances have come off the bench.

George Horne celebrates Scotland's Autumn Nations Series win over Australia. (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)

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“Yeah, it’s quite tough when you know you’re not getting much game time but you know you’ve still got a big role to play, whether that was the Australia game in the last ten minutes, just being accurate in what we were doing and closing the game out,” he said.

“I would love to start every game but I understand that as a nine often the role is to come off the bench.”

The Japan match will bring the curtain down on Scotland’s Autumn Nations Series which began with wins over Tonga and Australia before the setback against South Africa. It’s the first time Scotland have met the Japanese since the World Cup but Horne played down talk of revenge.

“I mean we want to win, which is righting a wrong, I guess,” said the Glasgow Warriors man. “But losing to them at the World Cup has not been mentioned. We’re just focused on getting a result this week and if we put up a good performance I think we’ll be good enough to beat them.

“We’re a completely different team now. We’ve developed our game a lot in the last couple of years and we’re up there as one of the best teams in the world defensively. So hopefully we can put them under a lot of pressure and not let them play their offloading, expansive game.

“We kind of know what’s coming. It’s not going to be anything like 2019, hopefully.”

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