Lawson hails Scotland strength
Scrum-half knows competition for World Cup places is fierce
Last Updated: 03/08/11 4:41pm
Lawson: chance to impress against Ireland
Rory Lawson is far from complacent about taking his place in Andy Robinson's 30-man Scotland squad for the Rugby World Cup despite being named as captain for Saturday's EMC Test with Ireland.
Scrum-half Lawson takes a 100 per cent record as skipper into the Murrayfield tussle, following last November's wins over South Africa and Samoa.
But with British Lions Mike Blair, Chris Cusiter and Edinburgh's Greig Laidlaw, who can also play fly-half, vying for the number nine slots in New Zealand, the Gloucester ace is taking nothing for granted with Robinson preparing to name his final squad on August 22.
"I don't think any member of the squad would be sitting back thinking they're on the plane. If you do, then there's something wrong," said Lawson.
"I think the competition in the squad is better than ever.
"We've got 38 guys who are almost fully fit now, as a result we've got 38 guys fighting for a spot not only in the 30 or the 22 but in the starting XV.
"Opportunities are at a premium and the competition for the scrum-half berth is massive.
"I'm being given the first opportunity to start, but I'm fully aware of the competition.
"It's ruthless and it's a challenge every day to make sure I'm performing well and giving myself the best opportunity.
"Other people make the decisions, but I've got to know I'm performing as best I can to put myself in a strong position."
"I think the competition in the squad is better than ever. We've got 38 guys who are almost fully fit now, as a result we've got 38 guys fighting for a spot not only in the 30 or the 22 but in the starting XV."
Rory Lawson Quotes of the week
Scotland's players returned from St Andrews to Edinburgh on Wednesday for final match preparations, with Lawson eager to extend his success as skipper.
"The game on Saturday is a huge match for us as a stepping stone towards the World Cup," he added.
"It's a full-blown Test match against one of the top teams in the world and we certainly want to put in a good performance after a lot of hard work so far this pre-season.
"I've really enjoyed the occasions in which I've captained Scotland.
"I don't see my role changing hugely as captain, but certainly leading the team out is something I'm incredibly proud of."
Head coach Robinson revealed on Tuesday he has chosen his World Cup captain, but he has yet to inform the players of his decision.
Lawson, who takes the captaincy from RBS Six Nations skipper Alastair Kellock, would be honoured to be given the role, but is not looking too far ahead.
He said: "It would be massive, but for me just now my focus is on Saturday.
"I don't know if I'll get the opportunity to play against Italy in a couple of weeks, so for me, outwith performing very well in training, this is the opportunity for me to lay down a marker and put in a performance that will give me a shout.
"That's all I can really ask for."
Lawson, along with Robinson, was a guest of Gloucester team-mate Mike Tindall and Zara Phillips at last weekend's Royal Wedding in Edinburgh.
England centre Tindall was also joined by a number of his international team-mates and team boss Martin Johnson.
With Scotland's final World Cup Pool B match coming against England in Auckland on October 1, Lawson hinted the banter between the camps is only just beginning.
He said: "I've spoken to Tins (Tindall) a little bit over the last couple of months about how their pre-season has gone and the strength of their squad is obviously there for everyone to see.
"There's going to be a bit of chat between now and October time, but there's a lot of things happening before then that are hugely important and that's certainly my focus."
The preparation matches begin on Saturday, with Lawson determined to make amends for the 21-18 loss at Murrayfield to Ireland as part of a disappointing Six Nations showing.
He said: "It would be great to hit the ground running on Saturday and put in a
good performance to build on.
"We've brought in a few new things to our training in attack and defence and we'll be looking to try those out.
"These things are never seamless when you're playing an international as the first game of the season.
"But if we get things right mentally and physically we won't be far away and we'll put ourselves in a good position to build on that."