Gregor Townsend says 'belief will drive Scotland forward'

By Andy BurkeBBC Scotland
Scotland beat France 27-23 in Paris in March
Scotland enjoyed away wins against England and France in this year's Six Nations but lost tight home games against Ireland and Wales

Head coach Gregor Townsend says the next stage of Scotland's evolution is to develop the belief they can beat any team in the world.

Townsend named 12 uncapped players in his squad for the upcoming Autumn Nations Series against Tonga, Australia, South Africa and Japan.

The Scots now also boast eight British and Irish Lions.

"The major one is belief," said Townsend when asked where he sees room for improvement.

He added: "Belief that we now go into a game expecting to win, expecting that, if we perform well, we've got the players to beat anybody.

"That belief has been growing through the experiences like winning at Twickenham and in Paris, but also other experiences. Experiences of Lions tours, of what players are doing at their own clubs.

"Belief is what's going to drive this group towards success over the next year, two years. The technical side of it, the belief and the togetherness.

"The way we came back in Paris showed that this a group that's together, that can handle adversity. We got a red card, went behind on the scoreboard, but we stuck in there, showed resilience and got the win. Those are key qualities in winning at any sport, but especially Test match rugby."

'Massive games in November'

Townsend said he was "so proud" of the way the Scottish contingent - Ali Price, Finn Russell, Chris Harris, Duhan van der Merwe, Stuart Hogg, Zander Fagerson, Rory Sutherland and Hamish Watson - acquitted themselves on the Lions' summer tour of South Africa and believes their experiences can only benefit Scotland.

Two years out from the World Cup, Townsend admits the selection of a host of young and uncapped players is "with a quarter of an eye" on France 2023, but stressed the importance of the battles to be won between now and then.

"It's in our minds and obviously the World Cup is the biggest tournament over a four-year period, but the games we play in November are always massive," he added.

"They're played at home, you're always playing teams in the top four or five in the world. So we can't take our eyes off that and we certainly can't take our eyes off the Six Nations which is the best international tournament outside of the World Cup.

"We understand there are players who may not be starters now that, as you go through the next two years, can grow and become a starter as we head towards the World Cup. But for that to happen we have to give them opportunities first in our training environment, but also playing Test rugby to see how they get on."

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