Rugby union: Scotland ready to face the heat

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The Independent Online
SCOTLAND face a hot start to their eight-match tour of Fiji and Australia. The squad experienced temperatures in the high 80s in Suva as they made their final preparations for the Test against Fiji today.

The Scotland captain, Rob Wainwright, tried to take the heat our of the situation with some sound medical advice. "I was here in 1989 with a universities side. Then as now it is a case of keeping up the water intake," he said. "You have to keep drinking during the game and conserve as much energy as possible."

Wainwright will lead a Test side that contains three new caps, two of them - Gordon McIlwham and Matthew Proudfoot - in the front row. "I will be advising the two new props first and foremost to concentrate on their basic tasks. The most important thing for them is to get the setpiece work right. Anything above that is a bonus. They are in the side to ensure that we win scrum and line-out ball."

The coach, Jim Telfer, appreciates that playing Fiji in the opening match of the tour is a high-risk strategy - but he is convinced that opening the trip with a hard match can do nothing but good for the Scotland squad. "We want to hit Australia running with one game under our belt. We plan to be battle hardened for the New South Wales game a week on Saturday," he said.

"It is important to test yourselves against the very best in the world. We know that Fiji are a quality side. They are after all Pan Pacific champions and are going for a place in the World Cup finals."

Australia's coach, Rod Macqueen, yesterday reported a full-strength squad for his side's opening international of the season against England in Brisbane next month.

Two recovering Wallabies, David Wilson and Joe Roff, will ease their way into training when the Australian team goes into camp north of Brisbane today. The winger Roff, flanker Wilson and the Australian captain and second row, John Eales, all missed the final round of Super 12 competition a week ago - but Macqueen said all his squad are fit for the June 6 international.

Taine Randell has been named as the captain of a shadow Test side for next month's New Zealand trials - sending out a strong message that he will take over leadership of the All Blacks from Sean Fitzpatrick.

The trials will pit the New Zealand Barbarians against a New Zealand A side on 8 June.

Randell, 23, has been a team leader for most of his playing career. He has captained the New Zealand Maoris and the midweek All Blacks on the South African tour in 1996.

Justin Marshall, who was Test captain in Britain last year in the absence of Fitzpatrick, is still recovering from a serious ankle injury.