Scotland v Tonga: Gregor Townsend supports pitch decision

By Liam McLeodBBC Scotland
Glasgow Warriors boss Gregor Townsend
Glasgow Warriors boss Gregor Townsend is happy with his side for the match against Scarlets
Autumn Test: Scotland v Tonga
Venue: Rugby Park, Kilmarnock Date: 22 November Kick-off: 14:30 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One, HD, BBC Radio Scotland and the BBC Sport website

Gregor Townsend has backed the decision to play Scotland's final autumn Test on the artificial surface at Rugby Park.

The Scots take on Tonga on Saturday in what will be the first international Test on an artificial pitch.

Playing on a synthetic pitch has sparked debate but Glasgow head coach Townsend is all for it.

"It's a great concept, we've played a couple of times on Cardiff Arms Park, which created a really fast-paced game," he told BBC Scotland.

And Townsend, whose Warriors side visit Scarlets in the Pro12 on Friday night, added: "We're in Wales this morning and it's heavy rain, which you're going to get in the northern hemisphere season, so to have a surface you know is consistent is great for the supporters and will tend to create a fast game."

Townsend played more than 80 times for Scotland and the 41-year-old has been impressed by the Scots' autumn Test displays under head coach Vern Cotter.

After seeing them beat Argentina and lose narrowly to New Zealand in the first two Tests, he insists beating Tonga is crucial, as the Scots look to make amends for a defeat to the South Pacific Islanders at Pittodrie in 2012.

"It would be a good way to finish the November Test series with a win," he added.

Rugby Park
Kilmarnock installed an artificial surface at Rugby Park in the summer

"Things have been very positive in the first two games - a good win over Argentina and pushing the All Blacks close. But Tonga are a difficult team, they put 40 points on USA last week and beat Scotland a couple of years ago, so it will be a challenge.

"Scotland have played with a lot of ambition, there are some young players in the team that have really taken the game to the opposition, which is great to see.

"It's created a real energy among the supporters, I was at both games and you can feel the supporters are really behind the team, because they can see this team is going to improve."

Warriors go into Friday's match second in the Pro12 table, but several key players miss the game because they are on international duty.

But Townsend said: "We've got a strong squad and a strong team out tonight. We've been working hard over the past few weeks with this group of players and they've prepared very well.

"Every game is difficult in this league, whether it's during the international window or not, and we're looking forward to seeing this team play tonight."