John Dalziel insisted Hamish Watson still has plenty to offer Scotland even though he has been a peripheral figure at this World Cup so far.
The 31-year-old back-rower toured with the British and Irish Lions just over two years ago but has recently lost his status as first-choice openside flanker for the national team to the burgeoning Rory Darge.
Watson did not make the match-day 23 for the World Cup matches against South Africa or Tonga, but the Edinburgh forward is widely expected to have some involvement in Saturday’s must-win match against Pool B minnows Romania in Lille.
“Hamish is one of our most experienced players,” assistant coach Dalziel said. “He’s a fantastic guy to have around the squad.
“There’s been a great fight between him and Darge across the last couple of campaigns for that seven jersey. Injuries (for both) have had a lot to do with it but this is the first time for a while we’ve had them both fit and they’re vying for it.
“Hamish couldn’t have trained any better than he has and we know exactly what he can do so if called upon I’m sure he’ll be desperate to deliver a big performance.”
Watson is one of five players in the squad yet to see any action in France, with Javan Sebastian, Luke Crosbie, Ben Healy and new addition Johnny Matthews the others.
It is likely that the majority – or all – of them will get a chance to play some part against Romania on Saturday, as Scotland have a heavyweight encounter with Ireland in Paris the following week.
If the Scots are to qualify for the quarter-finals, they must get a bonus-point win this weekend and then defeat the Irish either with a bonus point or by denying their opponents a bonus.
Although the Romania game is widely deemed a formality for the Scots, Dalziel played down any notion that the coaches will go for what might be perceived as a significantly-weakened team when they announce their selection on Thursday.
“Injuries and incidents are part of the game,” he said when asked if preserving key men will be a factor in picking the side for Romania.
“In terms of the limitations now, you can be millimetres or centimetres away from being best practice to getting yourself in a bit of trouble with injury or suspension but we can’t mollycoddle anybody.
“We’ve had to put out a strong team in each of our games so far and it will be exactly the same against Romania. It’s certainly not one where we’ll roll the dice and go to a weakened selection.
“To give ourselves the best opportunity in that last game (against Ireland), we’ve got to be squeaky clean and probably have our best performance of this tournament so far against Romania, so we’ll pick the strongest side available to do that.
“Everything we do now is looking at Romania, there’s nothing beyond that.”
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