Scotland vow to take game to the Wallabies

Jun 15, 2017 - 2:11 AM Scotland coach Gregor Townsend is backing lively playmaker Finn Russell to inspire the tourists to another famous win over the Wallabies on Saturday.

Five years after upsetting Australia 9-6 in foul winter conditions in Newcastle, the Scots have arrived in Sydney as the fifth-ranked side in the world and full of optimism.

"We're playing the Wallabies in Australia, they're full strength. We believe we can win," Townsend said on Thursday after recalling star lock Jonny Gray in one of eight changes to the side that beat Italy 34-13 in Singapore last Saturday.

The Scots will field an entirely new front row and back three, but Gray's inclusion is the most significant change in a strengthened team.

Anticipating a high-tempo game with lots of ball movement from the Wallabies, Townsend said the 23-year-old's defence would be critical at Allianz Stadium.

A controversial omission from the British and Irish Lions' tour of New Zealand, Gray is famous for attempting 85 tackles in one Six Nations campaign - and missing just one.

Townsend admits he deliberately kept Gray fresh for the Wallabies, who ran in five tries in their season-opening 37-14 win over Fiji last Saturday in Melbourne.

"We've managed him for a reason to make sure he's ready to go for this game," Townsend said.

"He's been a key player for Scotland the last two or three seasons. He's in great form. He can't wait to play."

From a typically dour northern hemisphere outfit, the Scots have developed into a vibrant attacking unit under former Kiwi mentor Vern Cotter and now Townsend and the legendary former fly-half credits much of the transformation to Russell's attacking flair.

The coach has again handed his exciting No.10 a licence to thrill as Scotland strive to atone for heartbreaking one-point losses to the Wallabies in their past two encounters over the past two years.

"Finn's certainly helped the way the team has played in terms of ambition and taking the ball to the line, being confident enough to make decisions," Townsend said.

'Not all of them are going to work, but he's got that mindset. He's calm under pressure. If he sees space to attack, he'll go and grab it, and that's great for other people to work off.

"He's also a key leader for us. He's our vice-captain, he leads the attack. He contributes a lot in meetings, he watches a lot of the opposition and where opportunities might be."

Source: AAP

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