Scots not weakened

Jason O'Halloran

Jason O’Halloran is Scotland’s new backs coach

Backs coach Jason O’Halloran believes injuries will not weaken Scotland against England in the Six Nations.

Centres Alex Dunbar, Mark Bennett and Peter Horne are struggling and Richie Vernon is ruled out of the squad.

Head coach Vern Cotter has called up Glasgow prop Alex Allan and Edinburgh back-row Hamish Watson.

“If you look at Peter Horne, Mark Bennett, Duncan Taylor, Matt Scott; there is some depth there now,” said O’Halloran.

“So that’s really comforting for me, we have four quality centres right there that we can choose from.

“I’m excited about the talent, there are a lot of guys playing well.

Scotland were two minutes away from beating Australia in last year’s World Cup

“Mark Bennett is an outstanding young talent, Duncan Taylor has been playing really well for Saracens and has a bit of knowledge about England with the defensive system Sarries run. So he is a valuable guy.

“Matt Scott is playing well, Stuart Hogg is starting to play some really good rugby. Finn Russell is a really good player at this level and is coming off an excellent World Cup. Greig Laidlaw is an outstanding leader of the group.”

Scotland took the wooden spoon in last season’s Six Nations but were two minutes away from beating Australia in their World Cup quarter-final and are in a positive frame of mind.

“They are coming off a solid World Cup and will have learned a lot about playing in big games like this,” said former Manawatu Turbos head coach O’Halloran.

“I certainly think we can carry a lot more confidence into games. If you are more familiar with your role and understand it better, you can really bring another level of physical intensity to the game, and that’s really where our focus is.”

Glasgow Warriors prop Zander Fagerson believes Scotland can win the Six Nations, but O’Halloran was more grounded with his ambitions.

“I don’t know about winning it, we just have to take one game at a time and the first hurdle is England, which is going to be a massive, massive challenge with Eddie [Jones] in there as the new coach and a lot of disappointed players after the World Cup,” explained New Zealander O’Halloran.

“So they will be really hungry and wanting to make a statement and we have to match their physical intensity.”

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