De Luca 'desperate' for spot
Scotland centre aims to make most of final opportunity to impress
Last Updated: August 18, 2011 4:25pm
De Luca: Hopes to take chance
Edinburgh centre Nick De Luca does not want to be a 'super-sub' and intends to earn his place in Scotland's World Cup squad this weekend.
The 27-year-old set up Joe Ansbro's try in the 10-6 win over Ireland a fortnight ago after coming off the bench and is set to start Saturday's final World Cup warm-up contest with Italy at Murrayfield.
Head coach Andy Robinson announces his 30-man World Cup squad on Monday and De Luca is determined to be in it.
"I was very happy with my contribution," said De Luca. "It was only seven minutes, there wasn't much to do, but what I did I did well, which is all you can ask.
"But I don't want to be a super sub or anything. I want to put in a good performance and try to get on that plane and then a starting jersey.
"I'm desperate to get out there and play in a World Cup."
De Luca has now taken London Irish centre Ansbro's place in the first XV, lining up outside Glasgow Warriors centre Graeme Morrison, who is the only player retained from the starting line-up which began the Ireland game.
"It's good to get a run-out," added De Luca.
"I'm glad to get a go. I enjoy playing outside Graeme - we've been undefeated as a partnership in only three games."
Those matches were significant, though - the 2010 RBS 6 Nations win over Ireland in Dublin and the 2-0 win in Argentina which earned Scotland a first southern hemisphere series success.
De Luca now hopes to face the Pumas in the World Cup, with Saturday representing the last opportunity to impress and win a place on the plane to New Zealand.
"I've got this opportunity this weekend," De Luca said. "It's a great chance to put your case forward.
"I'm confident in my own ability and I need to make sure everybody else notices."
While the World Cup - and Pool B contests with Romania, Georgia, Argentina and England - is the goal, De Luca knows he must perform against the Azzurri to get there.
He added: "It's going to be a tough test - it always is against Italy.
"They're a big, aggressive side. It's ideal preparation for the teams we're playing in the group stages.
"We just have to go out and build on the positives and concentrate on getting some tries, keeping the defence solid and getting a victory."
Another player granted an opportunity to impress is Sale Sharks number eight Richie Vernon.
Vernon said: "Everyone in the squad has got a good chance and I've been granted a chance on the weekend to start.
"I'm really looking forward to the challenge."
The 24-year-old, who moved to Sale from Glasgow Warriors over the summer, faces fierce competition in the back row.
Johnnie Beattie, Ross Rennie and Alasdair Strokosch began the Ireland match and Vernon was impressed.
He added: "I thought the back row played really well.
"That made it a big challenge this week for me to live up to those heights.
"Hopefully we can play even better this weekend."
Vernon will be joined by Kelly Brown and John Barclay in the back row against Italy.
Brown and Barclay, barring injury, are near certainties to be included in the World Cup squad, while Rennie proved a capable deputy for Barclay at openside flanker.
Vernon, Beattie and Strokosch could be playing for two places, with Robinson also having previously deployed lock Nathan Hines in the back row and youngsters David Denton and Rob Harley likely out of the reckoning.
To win his place, Vernon hopes to do what he does best against Italy.
He added: "I'll be looking to get my hands on the ball, try and be as dangerous as I can, hopefully break some tackles and get through a few gaps.
"If I can do that hopefully it will put me forward for a place on that plane."
Scotland: R Lamont (Toulon); M Evans (Castres), N De Luca (Edinburgh), G Morrison (Glasgow Warriors), S Danielli (Ulster); D Parks (Cardiff Blues), M Blair (Edinburgh); A Dickinson (Sale Sharks), S Lawson (Gloucester), M Low (Glasgow Warriors), N Hines (Clermont Ferrand), A Kellock (capt, Glasgow Warriors), K Brown (Saracens), R Vernon (Sale Sharks), J Barclay (Glasgow Warriors).
Replacements: D Hall (Glasgow Warriors), E Murray (Newcastle), R Gray (Glasgow Warriors), R Rennie (Edinburgh), C Cusiter (Glasgow Warriors), R Jackson (Glasgow Warriors), N Walker (Ospreys).
Italy: A Masi; T Benvenuti (Benetton Treviso), G Canale (Clermont-Auvergne), Gonzalo Garcia (Benetton Treviso), Mirco Bergamasco (Racing-Metro Paris); L Orquera, F Semenzato (Benetton Treviso); A Lo Cicero (Racing-Metro Paris), L Ghiraldini (Benetton Treviso), M Castrogiovanni (Leicester), CA Del Fava, C Van Zyl (Benetton Treviso), P Derbyshire (Benetton Treviso), R Barbieri (Benetton Treviso), S Parisse (Stade Francais, capt).
Replacements: T D'Apice, L Cittadini (Benetton Treviso), M Bortolami, A Zanni (Benetton Treviso), P Canavosio (Cammi Calvisano), R Bocchino (Estra I Cavalieri Prato), M Pratichetti.