Alastair Kellock wants Scotland's youngsters to stake Japan claim
Last Updated: 08/11/13 6:52pm
Alastair Kellock: Wants to see Scotland's young players stake a World Cup claim
Scotland lock Alastair Kellock believes the team's emerging players can begin their journey to the World Cup squad with good performances against Japan at Murrayfield on Saturday.
Head coach Scott Johnson has spoken of the need to enhance his squad depth ahead of the 2015 tournament and, with that in mind, lock Tim Swinson and wing Tommy Seymour make their first Scotland appearances at the national stadium.
Vern Cotter, who is taking up the Scotland reins when his contract ends at Clermont Auvergne at the end of the season, will be present at the game, increasing the opportunity for the new players to impress.
"The young lads coming through have done very well," said Kellock. "I know Scott has spoken about increasing the pool he has got to pick from but a lot of it is happening naturally as well.
"These lads are coming to an age and experience where they would be pushing for the Scotland team.
"Jonny Gray for example has been exceptionally good for Glasgow. He is here on merit and I'm sure he will get an opportunity over the next couple of weeks to show what he can do."
Kellock believes countries once known as minnows in world rugby have improved considerably, a theory that gained extra weight in the summer when Japan defeated Wales.
The reasons for the improvements are twofold, Kellock feels, and in the case of Japan because they have "gone back and got their basics spot-on".
"Their set-piece is very, very good; their tackling and defence is very good; the structure of their attack is as good as any of the top teams," Kellock said.
"They have sorted things out from the bottom up and they still have the ability to cut you open if they get good ball.
"Their players are playing at good levels, in some of the best leagues in the world," he said. "And physically these teams are now as fit and as strong as any other team in the world.
"We will need to be at our best to win the game but also for individuals to keep their jersey."