Scotland need more leaders for World Cup - Peter Wright

Scotland lost all of their Six Nations matches this year
Scotland lost all of their Six Nations matches this year

A lack of top level experience may hinder Scotland at the World Cup, worries former prop Peter Wright.

"Scotland have some really exciting players and they have a pack of forwards that can compete with anybody in the world," said Wright.

"We have a midfield that can be extremely dangerous - if they are fit - and the back three can hurt teams.

"What is lacking is leaders and to get leaders you need experience and that may take another two or three years."

Scotland will play warm-up games against Italy (home and away) and visit Ireland and France before the World Cup begins in England in September.

And head coach Vern Cotter will be aiming to iron out the problems that led to a Six Nations whitewash earlier this year.

Scotland open against Japan in Gloucester on 23 September, with USA, South Africa and Samoa making up Pool B.

The Springboks will be strong favourites to top the section, making Scotland's final group game against Samoa in Newcastle on 10 October a potential decider for the second qualifying spot.

Scotland's Pool B matches
Japan, Kingsholm, Gloucester23 September
USA, Elland Road, Leeds27 September
South Africa, St. James' Park, Newcastle3 October
Samoa, St. James' Park, Newcastle10 October

Former Glasgow coach Sean Lineen was impressed by Samoa in their recent 25-16 defeat to World Cup holders New Zealand but thinks Scotland can prevail.

"South Africa will be incredibly difficult but the Samoa game will be one to savour," said Scotland's age-grade coach.

"I'm confident Scotland will get through the group.

"I've been watching Scotland train and there is a really good, tough buzz amongst the group.

"I watched Samoa v New Zealand, the physicality was on another scale! They absolutely brutalised the All Blacks, who were missing a few players and still came through with a win.

"But I think Scotland have got the game to beat Samoa. When it comes to set-piece and playing at tempo.

"The worst thing you can do is run down channel one or two against these guys and wait for the big hit.

"We have some exciting young backs and we need to make sure we have the big forwards getting over the gain line to unleash the likes of [fly-half] Finn Russell."

Wright, who won 21 caps for Scotland, describes Russell as "a great all-round player full of potential".

Josh Strauss
Strauss will be eligible for Scotland when the World Cup kicks off

But the 22-year-old has only been a regular starter at his club for a season and has played just nine internationals.

He could be joined at the World Cup by club-mate Josh Strauss, with the South Africa-born number eight qualifying through residency four days before Scotland meet Japan.

And, despite the 28-year-old having never experienced international rugby, Wright believes Strauss can help address the on-field leadership issue.

"He certainly leads by example and we need guys with presence and the confidence to make the right decisions in big games," explained Wright, who would like John Barclay to return to the back-row.

The Scarlets flanker, 28, won the last of his 43 caps in November 2013 but is in Cotter's training squad.

"I would have John Barclay playing in every single Scotland game," added Wright. "For me, it's an unbelievable decision that he has not played for so long.

"He's another natural leader and he's playing as well as he ever has."