Scotland vs Tonga preview: Geoff Cross ready for Tonga storm after Vern Cotter pulls no punches

The London Irish forward will be given his chance to impress the new Scotland coach

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The Independent Online

Scotland prop Geoff Cross has insisted he will learn from Vern Cotter’s “brutal” assessment of his recent displays.

The London Irish forward will be given his chance to impress the new Scotland coach when he starts the final autumn Test with Tonga at Rugby Park in Kilmarnock today. The likelihood is that had Euan Murray not suffered a thigh injury in last weekend’s narrow defeat to the All Blacks, Cross would have found himself back on the bench today as he had been for the opening two internationals against Argentina and New Zealand.

The fully-qualified doctor said: “When Vern talked to me earlier this week, he asked: ‘How do you want me to talk to you Geoff? Do you want me to be nice or do you want me to be brutal?’

“I said: ‘Vern, be brutal’. And he is definitely good at brutal and honest. But that means you know what you have got to work on. That’s nice and simple. I like  simple instruction.

“Is Vern nice? He is  simple and direct. Nice can also mean scrupulously  precise, and I would say that fits with Vern.”

As well as coping with the plastic pitch that will be used for the first time in a major international, Cross and his colleagues will have to deal with a side that left them red-faced in a 21-15 defeat at  Pittodrie two years ago.

Cross said of the Pacific Islanders: “They will be very physical. In order to meet that, we need to get our kicking game right and we have to pressure them both in attack and defence. If we do those things I think we can go well against them – but they are a better team than they were in  the past. I enjoy a physical challenge. I expect they will be coming into the areas of the field where I am and that will be good fun.”

Scotland Hogg, Seymour, Lamont, Dunbar, Visser, Russell, Laidlaw (captain); Beattie, Cowan, Harley, Gray, Gray, Cross, Ford, Dickinson. Reserves Brown, Reid, Grant, Low, Strokosch, Cusiter, Weir, Taylor.