The Scots top the Guinness Six Nations table after opening their campaign with extra-point wins at home to England and at home to Wales.
Speaking on Friday morning as the team prepared to travel to Paris, the man of the ceremony said: “We’ve been tough with players going into Wales week, and rightly so because in the past we didn’t support our first performances in Week Two. Six Nations Week and also Because we thought there were more in the group,”
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“We feel the same way this week. I think the players realize what a big test it will be, playing one of the best teams in the world at home, in a place where we haven’t had much success (at) over the last 100 years.
“It’s going to be a tough challenge but we can meet that challenge. We can improve on Wales. Going into a game like this on the back of wins is a much better place than if you’re coming out with defeats.”
“You have this confident feeling about the way you play and you also have evidence that what you do leads to good things.”
Unsurprisingly, Townsend has kept changes to a minimum, with just one change to the start, as 2021 British and Irish Lions member Hamish Watson replaces Edinburgh teammate Luke Crosby. Ali Price – another lion – is back in the squad as one of the divers after being left out of 23 in the first two matches due to his lack of form.
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“We give consideration to each player in the squad for selection,” said the coach. “The easy thing is to go ‘we win a game, let’s not have a discussion, let’s move on to the next game’.”
“You want to reward players who play well but I’ve said since the Wales and England games, we’re not playing at our best yet. We need to go up a few levels.
“It could come from the team being given a second chance or it could come from other players who we feel can help us improve. The level of training has made the selection difficult, but bringing back Hamish Watson and Ali Price, who have played well for us in the past and showed in training Their willingness to come back again, that’s the position you want to get into.”
Watson has missed the first two matches of the tournament due to a lack of playing time since the fall following concussion issues, but Townsend feels the 32-year-old, who has 54 caps, is now ready to return to the Test arena after playing. Two games for Edinburgh in recent weeks.
“Hamish has trained well and played two games, so we think he will get back to the level we know he can play at,” said the coach. “We think he’s a good player for the way France wants to play and he adds pace to our attack.
“While it’s hard for Luke Crosbie and Jack Dempsey, who was also in the mix, it’s good for us to have that level of competition.
“Hamish is in our leadership group, he was our captain in the summer in Argentina. He’s really stepped up as a captain over the last year or two so that experience can help from a psychological level when players look around and see someone who’s been there over 50 times for Scotland. It’s up to him. Hamish to help out, and that’s what we expect of him.”
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