Italy v Scotland: It is not a competition yet - Vern Cotter

Scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne will make his first Scotland start on Saturday
Scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne will make his first Scotland start on Saturday

Head coach Vern Cotter admits there is pressure on Scotland after six straight defeats but says dwelling on those results only brings more strain.

Following a Six Nations whitewash, Scotland lost the first of four World Cup warm-ups to Ireland last weekend.

Italy are next up on Saturday, with Cotter making 11 changes to his starting line-up.

"Everyone is aware of results but added pressure on the team will only stop it performing," said Cotter.

"We are focusing on the content of our rugby and if we can look after that, put in a good performance and do things well, the results will look after themselves.

"There were some promising things last week and the content is important.

"It's not a competition yet. These are games that are there to help us prepare for the World Cup.

"This weekend there will be things that are very good and things that aren't. Our combinations are changing but we are looking to get a cohesive performance from the players."

John Hardie, Rory Hughes and Stuart McInally are looking forward to Scotland debuts
Hardie, Hughes and McInally (left-to-right) are looking forward to Scotland debuts in Turin

John Hardie, Rory Hughes and Stuart McInally will all get their first taste of international action at the home of Serie A football team Torino.

Lock Grant Gilchrist captains the side, while scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne and prop Mike Cusack make their first starts.

New Zealand-born Hardie, who qualifies for Scotland through his Fife grandmother, quit his homeland in a bid to fulfil his World Cup ambitions.

The former Highlander is still without a club side and Cotter believes the sacrifices made by the 26-year-old back-row mean he is worth considering for the final 31-man squad.

"John has played 50-odd games for the Highlanders and was very close to national selection in New Zealand," explained Cotter.

"He made the choice to come over here with no contract so what I see in him is character - it takes a bit of courage to do what he's done.

"He believes in his skill sets and what he can bring to a Scotland jersey. It's in his blood too. He now gets his opportunity."

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