Jamie Ritchie has warned his Scotland team-mates to be prepared for a Tonga side intent on trying to end their Rugby World Cup campaign this weekend.
The Scots go into the match against the Pacific islanders in Nice on Sunday as hot favourites to get the win they need to keep alive their hopes of progressing to the quarter-finals.
Captain Ritchie has no worries about his team’s ability to deal with the pressure of playing with no margin for error following their opening-weekend defeat by South Africa.
However, the skipper was keen to guard against complacency by pointing out that he feels Tonga – who have already lost 59-16 and are due to play the formidable Springboks next weekend – will view their match against the fifth-ranked Scots as a slightly more realistic opportunity to cap their tournament with a statement victory.
“Definitely not,” said Ritchie, dismissing any suggestion his team may be lulled into sharing the widely held view from outside the Scottish camp that this weekend’s match will be a formality.
“They showed in the opening period of that game that they caused Ireland a few problems. They have got some serious players.
“I’m guessing they are going to target us as their big game, the one they want to cause an upset in, so we have to be ready for that. They are going to be up for it and it’s going to be a pretty physical encounter.
“They are a very physical side and coming into the World Cup they have had an extended period of time together which is something where they usually struggle going into Test matches.
“With that extended period of time together they have got used to how each other play, they’ve had time to put in systems. We will definitely need to be on it and at our best in this game.”
After opening their campaign in Marseille a fortnight ago, Ritchie is relishing the prospect of playing at Stade de Nice, less than two miles from their World Cup training base at Stade Nicois, to the north west of the city.
The Scots, who visited the area twice leading up to the tournament, have grown accustomed to life in this stretch of the Cote d’Azur in recent months and are expected to be backed by a sizeable contingent of supporters who have descended on the city this week.
“We’re hearing there are a lot of Scottish people coming to the game so we’re really excited about hearing them,” said Ritchie.
“We’ve spent a lot of time here and hopefully we’ve built up a decent relationship with the surrounding area.
“We know it well so we’re really excited to play there. We played there four years ago in the World Cup warm-up (against France) and it’s an awesome stadium.”2023-09-22T18:18:29Z dg43tfdfdgfd