Big in Japan: Sam Skinner targets slot in the engine-room

Exeter Chiefs star has played three of his five games for Scotland at flanker but believes second-row is where he can make biggest impact

Sam Skinner poses I the new Scotland team strip during an open training session on the back pitches at Murrayfield. Image: © Craig Watson -

SAM SKINNER has played back-row in three of his five Scotland caps to date, but as World Cup preparations intensify the Exeter Chiefs man has stated that if he is to nail down a spot in the starting XV going forward then he would prefer it to be in the second-row.

The 24-year-old was the find of 2018-19 for Scotland along with winger Darcy Graham and he wants to make sure of his place on the plane to Japan come September.

This week the extended 44-man Scottish squad have been back in training at Oriam on the outskirts of Edinburgh following a two-week break, ahead of matches home and away against France and Georgia in August and early September. During that run of games head coach Gregor Townsend will select the 31-man squad that will head to the showpiece event in less than two months.

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“Competition drives competition and it drives standards,” said Skinner, who made his debut in the Autumn against Fiji. “In terms of my position, I think it’s more a case of me being a second-row who can play in the back-row, rather than the other way round.

“Having said that, I’ve probably played more in the back-row for Scotland so far, but I’m just happy to play wherever they pick me. Obviously, I want to nail down one spot and I would prefer that to be in the second-row.”

A World Cup training camp can be a long and gruelling experience, but Skinner is loving testing himself over a tough summer. “It’s all a new experience for me and one I’m definitely enjoying it. We’ve had the off-season now and we’re all rested up,” he stated.

“Camp has been good fun and it’s good to be back. I had a couple of extra weeks off at the start just because my season finished later with Exeter. After seeing the boys in Inverness for a couple of days I then joined the boys in the Portugal camp and will be here for the next few weeks.

“I think we’re in a good place. We have a lot of depth. We were a big injury-hit during the Six Nations, but now you look around the squad and we’ve got almost three excellent sides who could play at any point in a World Cup. So, there’s a lot of competition and we feel like we’re in a really healthy spot right now.

“Pushing for the final 31 is definitely a factor, but ultimately we’re all pushing in the same direction at the moment. We want Scotland to do as well as possible in the World Cup and we want to help each other. So that’s the main focus right now.

“It has been a really good season for me to develop in terms of my role in the Exeter squad. I have become a more confident and solid first team player now and that has helped me with Scotland.”

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About Gary Heatly 463 Articles
Gary has loved rugby ever since he can remember and since 2004 he has covered the sport and others in a professional capacity for many publications and websites and runs his own company, GH Media.