Kyle Steyn has warned Scotland they must be ready to match Tonga’s physicality and passion if they are to secure the bonus-point win they require in the Rugby World Cup this weekend.
The Scots go into their second match at the tournament in Nice on Sunday knowing they have no margin for error remaining after losing their opening game to South Africa.
Gregor Townsend’s side will be hot favourites to get the result they need, but wing Steyn insisted it would be a mistake to underestimate the patriotic Tongans, who are ranked 15th in the world and looking to bounce back from a 59-16 defeat by Ireland.
“It will be a physical test, especially at a World Cup,” he said. “Tonga has a really passionate culture, they’re big on family and they really play for each other.
“We know they’re going to be out to represent their country and their families, and that’s going to bring a lot of physicality. It’s about dealing with that and matching it.”
Having been idle last weekend, Scotland have had plenty time to reflect and regroup since their demoralising 18-3 defeat by South Africa.
Glasgow back Steyn views the Tonga match as a big opportunity for the Scots to get their World Cup up and running and restore the sense of optimism that had been building among their supporters prior to the setback against the Springboks.
“We pride ourselves on the connection we’ve managed to build with the fans and the people back home,” said the 29-year-old. “We didn’t give our best showing against South Africa so it’s important we go out there and right some of those wrongs.
“Every game is must-win for us now. We can’t look too far ahead but this weekend is big because it is the one that gives us the chance to get back on track and get the momentum rolling.”
Scotland, who have reported no fresh injuries since the South Africa game, are on course to have a full-strength squad available for Sunday’s match, with hooker Ewan Ashman and scrum-half George Horne back in contention after concussion and back-rower Luke Crosbie having overcome a rib problem.
Horne declared that, after stewing over the Springboks defeat, the players are eager to get back into action as they bid to revive their hopes of qualifying for the quarter-finals.
“Coming off the back of a disappointing loss last week, everyone just wants to get back out there,” said the Glasgow scrum-half. “We’ve had the week to lick our wounds and everyone’s raring to get back out there and get involved in another World Cup game.”
Scotland have been staying near Nice and training at Stade Nicois’ rugby ground – less than two miles from Stade de Nice – since arriving in France at the start of September.
After their opening match took place in Marseille, they are looking forward to playing in their base city for the first time this weekend.
“We’ve got our base here in Nice and everyone’s at home now,” said Horne. “The stadium looks amazing, the atmosphere has been unbelievable in the games that have been played there already so everyone’s buzzing to get out there and play.”
STV News is now on WhatsApp
Get all the latest news from around the countryFollow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp
Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country