Scotland's future happy to learn the hard way

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The Independent Online

Taking on one of the best lock forwards in the world in his first game for Scotland made the pain of Saturday's 41-5 defeat to Queensland worthwhile for Craig Hamilton.

Taking on one of the best lock forwards in the world in his first game for Scotland made the pain of Saturday's 41-5 defeat to Queensland worthwhile for Craig Hamilton.

Up against the Australia international Nathan Sharpe, Hamilton acquitted himself well and was singled out for praise by the Scotland coach Matt Williams, who has spoken of the urgent need to speed up the development of those on the fringes of the Scotland team by exposing them to a higher pace and intensity of rugby.

And that is what Hamilton found at Ballymore where the Reds ripped the Scottish defence apart to lead 29-0 at half-time. "It was a very tough game. It is a learning experience for me. It shows how big a step up it is," said Hamilton.

"You don't realise how big a step it is until you go out there and play. There are some great players out there. You have got to put yourself against the best if you want to improve. There is no good playing a club side and you thrash them, you are not really going to learn anything or improve your own game."

Williams was critical of Scotland's tackling techniques after the match and Hamilton conceded that the defensive structure needed work, but he is confident it will come with time.

"It is quite hard on the confidence, especially when the boys gave it their all, to come off and see the scoreboard the way it was," he said. "I thought we played quite well at times and our guys really stuck at it. Hopefully you will see as the tour goes on it we'll get better and better."

Winger Sean Lamont was another to catch the eye with a couple of promising breaks before scoring Scotland's only try late in the game.

"It was nice to score on your debut but they are a very strong side," the 23-year-old Glasgow winger said. "It did help my confidence putting on the jersey for the full side. Every game is a learning step, you have got to learn from errors and defeats. I hope we learn from this one."

With the Test squad on ice until Friday's match with Samoa, the development side will need to pick themselves up ahead of Wednesday's match with NSW Country in Wollongong.

Scotland's line-up will be confirmed tomorrow, while NSW Country today included the former Australia winger Scott Staniforth and the ACT Brumbies No 8 Scott Fava on the bench.

Staniforth is playing out his current NSW Rugby contract before heading to London Irish in the Zurich Premiership. Fava, a member of the Wallabies squad last year, was unfortunate to miss out on the current crop after a storming season as the Brumbies won the Super 12.

NSW Country are top of the Australian Rugby Shield table after four straight victories over Adelaide, Darwin, Melbourne and Perth.

* Songezo Nayo, the managing director of SA Rugby, the commercial arm of the South African Rugby Football Union resigned yesterday, citing a breakdown of trust between himself, the SARFU president Brian van Rooyen and his deputies Mike Stofile and Keith Parkinson as the major reason for his departure. Last week, Van Rooyen publicly criticised Nayo for the chaotic preparations at the Springbok training camp where the logistics manager and the doctor failed to arrive.