Rugby World Cup: Scotland 'have a chance' against South Africa

Cornal Hendricks of South Africa tackles Scotland's Tommy Seymour as Peter Horne falls over the top of them during the Test at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in 2014
Cornal Hendricks of South Africa tackles Scotland's Tommy Seymour as Peter Horne falls over the top of them during the Test at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in 2014
2015 Rugby World Cup
Host: England Dates: 18 September-31 October
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live and sports extra, BBC Radio Scotland, plus live text commentary on every match on the BBC Sport website

Former Scotland players Sean Lineen and Peter Wright think Scotland will progress from Pool B into the World Cup quarter-finals beside South Africa.

The Springboks are ranked third in the world but the Scotland duo also agree that Vern Cotter's side can beat them in Newcastle on 3 October.

"Scotland will have a chance against them if they put the right team out," said former centre Lineen.

"There is that belief and Vern is a very good coach."

Sean Lineen
Sean Lineen is head of player acquisition at Murrayfield

Lineen, who believes his native New Zealand are the "out-and-out favourites", reckons Scotland will be "too strong" for the experienced Samoa team and expects wins over Japan in Scotland's opening Pool B game on 23 September and the United States four days later.

"They have been together for a couple of seasons now," Lineen told BBC Scotland's Sportsound.

"They are growing together. Vern has developed a can-do atmosphere. There is innovation at the line-out and the defence is pretty strong too.

"With that crop of young backs coming through - Stuart Hogg, Mark Bennett, Finn Russell, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne - I honestly think there are some big things coming with this Scottish team."

Lineen, now head of player acquisition at Scottish Rugby, thinks there are six or seven teams who could win the World Cup. He believes avoiding injuries will be crucial and thinks teams should look out for "a massive upset" when they face Fiji, Tonga and Samoa.

He said: "The Pacific Island teams are very well coached now, they play more than one way, they are very streetwise.

"A lot of their players play in the northern hemisphere now."

Scotland's World Cup squad
Forwards (17)Backs (14)
Props: Alasdair Dickinson, Willem Nel (both Edinburgh), Ryan Grant, Gordon Reid (both Glasgow Warriors), Jon Welsh (Newcastle Falcons)Back three: Stuart Hogg, Sean Lamont, Tommy Seymour (all Glasgow Warriors), Tim Visser (Harlequins), Sean Maitland (London Irish)
Hookers: Fraser Brown, Kevin Bryce (both Glasgow Warriors), Ross Ford(Edinburgh)Centres: Mark Bennett, Peter Horne, Richie Vernon (all Glasgow Warriors), Matt Scott (Edinburgh)
Locks: Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh), Richie Gray (Castres), Jonny Gray, Tim Swinson (both Glasgow Warriors)Fly-halves: Finn Russell, Duncan Weir (both Glasgow Warriors)
Back-row: David Denton (Edinburgh), John Hardie (unattached), Alasdair Strokosch (Perpignan), Ryan Wilson, Josh Strauss (both Glasgow Warriors)Scrum-halves: Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (Edinburgh), Greig Laidlaw (Gloucester), Henry Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors)

Former Scotland prop Wright predicts that Scotland have to be prepared for draining matches in the round-robin stage, but is pleased that the gaps between matches should allow for recovery.

"Scotland and South Africa (will go through)," he said.

"It's a tough group. There are three extremely physical games there for Scotland in South Africa, Samoa and the USA. They are going to have to front up physically in those three games.

"In years gone by, from Scotland's perspective, if we had America and Japan in our group we'd be thinking that's two guaranteed wins, but I don't think it is. These teams - and Tonga, Fiji and Argentina - are big threats to countries now.

Scotland's Rugby World Cup fixtures
Wed, 23 Septv JapanKingsholm Stadium, Gloucester14:30 BST
Sun, 27 Septv United StatesElland Road, Leeds14:30 BST
Sat, 3 Octv South AfricaSt James Park, Newcastle16:45 BST
Sat, 10 Octv SamoaSt James Park, Newcastle14:30 BST

"The good thing is the space between the games. They could potentially put their strongest team out three weeks in a row.

"They play Japan first, which is probably the least physical but still a tough game, then it's America then South Africa and then Samoa. Everybody expects it to go down to that Samoa game (to clinch a last-eight slot).

"Though never in a World Cup, we have got history of beating South Africa so I'd be going all out to win that game.

"I wouldn't put everything on the Samoa match."

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