SCOTLAND centre Mark Bennett knows he needs to hit the ground running on his comeback from shoulder surgery, but feels as ready as possible.
The 22-year-old has been named in Scotland’s 25-man squad for the third of their four World Cup warm-up games, against Italy at BT Murrayfield on Saturday.
The Glasgow centre last played on 21 March, when he injured a shoulder against Ireland during Scotland’s fifth defeat of the RBS Six Nations campaign.
Bennett underwent surgery the following month and missed his club’s successful Guinness Pro12 run-in, but he is determined not to sit out the World Cup.
Scotland secured their first victory of the year in Italy on Saturday and Bennett is eager to follow his team-mates’ example in Edinburgh, days before head coach Vern Cotter names his final 31-man squad for the tournament.
“The squad have played well the last couple of weeks, so we know we need to raise our game and put in a good performance or we won’t be selected. It’s as easy as that,” said Bennett, who hopes to win his eighth cap when the Azzurri visit the capital at the weekend. “It’s been serious from the word go. We know the results in the Six Nations weren’t what we expect, so it has been serious since we have got here and we can’t sit back and rest now
“It’s been a tough few months and I have been working as hard as I can, so I’m not sure how much more I could have done to get myself ready.
“I’ve been ready to go for a few weeks now.”
Bennett claimed he was never in doubt about proving his fitness ahead of England 2015 but there were difficult moments on the sidelines as he missed out on some huge games.
“To be honest, I knew I would be fit in my own mind because I’ve been a quick healer before and I have youth on my side,” he said.
“I’m glad I’m here now. Five months is a long time and I’m not a good spectator, especially seeing Glasgow finish so well last season. It has been tough but I’m back now and that’s all that matters.
“It’s hard when I couldn’t do all the training at the start. It’s tough going but everyone has been working hard and seeing everyone else work hard keeps us going as well.
“There’s a real high work-rate in the squad and it’s showing on the park.”