Ryan Wilson says forwards coach Danny Wilson key to Scots’ World Cup hopes

Danny Wilson is a “brilliant” forwards coach and is making sure the pack members are armed with more information than ever before in time for the World Cup, according to Scotland back-row Ryan Wilson.

Scotland back-row Ryan Wilson is put through his paces on the back pitches at Murrayfield. Picture: SNS
Scotland back-row Ryan Wilson is put through his paces on the back pitches at Murrayfield. Picture: SNS

Wilson joined the national
team’s coaching set-up in August 2018 and has since looked after the big men up front in nine internationals
under head coach Gregor Townsend.

With physical tests coming up in the World Cup warm-up
games in August and early September against France and Georgia twice respectively,
Wilson will know a lot more about his charges by the time they get on the plane to Japan for the showpiece event in September, October and November. And Ryan Wilson believes his namesake is making his mark.

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“Danny has been brilliant, a really good bloke,” the 30-year-old Glasgow Warriors man said.

“He understands the players having come from a rugby
background and he knows what the boys need to do.

“He’s not a coach that flogs you, he knows what needs done and he’s very technical – in that sense I’d compare him to a Dan McFarland [former Scotland forwards coach].

“When he sets up a drill, he explains it to you, how we’re doing it, and why we’re doing it and then he puts it up for discussion which is something you need because, at the end of the day, if the players aren’t enjoying it then it won’t work.

“He’s open to feedback, but he’s there to have a good craic as well.

“I am enjoying this summer’s camp, the fitness side of it is pretty tough, especially last week after a couple of weeks off with the family.

“We came back in with a bang and had fitness testing on the Monday morning so the guys are definitely fitter than when the summer started.”

Wilson, who has 37 caps to his name and played in the 2015 World Cup, is one of ten back-rows battling it out for spots to go to Japan.

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He is training hard alongside John Barclay, Magnus Bradbury, Matt Fagerson, Gary Graham, Jamie Ritchie, Sam Skinner, Josh Strauss, Blade Thomson and Hamish Watson to impress Townsend, Wilson and the other coaches.

Asked if the back-row “factory” had ever churned out as much talent during his time with Scotland, Wilson replied: “No, never. There’s about ten back-rows in the squad, and there’s no one that’s certain to go or not to go to the World Cup.

“You have some young guys coming through, the likes of Matt Fagerson who’s been playing so well at Glasgow, and you have some old gits like John Barclay who are still hanging in there.

“It’s a strong position to be in and you can’t take anything for granted, and I don’t think anyone will with the way boys are training.

“Blade Thomson is the newest of the group and he is a really good player and really good bloke. He’s done well at training, and he’s fitted in well with the squad.

“He’s a quiet guy, he goes about his business quietly, but he’s looking sharp.

“I think as a whole squad we are in a very good place at the moment and there is so much competition, it is an exciting time and anything can happen at World Cups.

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“Make the knock-out stages, which we are excited about doing and we feel we can do it, then knock-out rugby is knock-out rugby and anything can happen.”

Wilson did not play in the last-minute quarter-final defeat against Australia in the last World Cup in 2015, but played a part in the pool stages.

“We haven’t really talked about it at all [the 35-34 loss to Australia at Twickenham], but I guess some of the guys will have it in the back of their minds,” he said.

“I guess it gives us confidence because there is a good chance we should have been in the semi-finals. We know that we did that four years ago and can go further this year with the squad we have got.

“Last time the Samoa game was tighter than we hoped 
[36-33 in the pool stages] and every game is dangerous.

“If you look at what Japan did against South Africa 
four years ago, it’s going to be a brilliant event and you 
just have to be ready for anything.

“As a team we are always there or there abouts [in terms of performance] and then sometimes we just click and you get a good feeling for it.

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“We have just got some players who can turn a game around and we just need to make sure we get ourselves on the front foot and keep putting pressure on teams from minute one.

“We don’t want to be chasing games, we want to be putting teams away early.”