Hogg dressed to impress one weekend, but now keen to standout on the rugby pitch

Stuart Hogg is set to play at his second World Cup

Stuart Hogg was dressed to impress as best man at a friend’s wedding at the weekend, but rather than making speeches, he is now firmly focused on letting his rugby do the talking.

The extended Scotland squad has been in camp over the last couple of months as they build-up towards the World Cup that begins in Japan next month.

The first of four warm-up games takes place against France in Nice on Saturday night as players clamour to make the final 31 man squad that will head to Asia.

Full-back Hogg, 27, will be one of the main men for Gregor Townsend’s men in the tournament and he is champing at the bit to add to his 67 caps.

A few days ago, he had the honour of being best man to his lifelong pal Euan Reilly, but now he is preparing for the France game and Scotland’s important run into the showpiece event.

And he believes defence is the thing Scotland must brush up on if they are to really challenge to go deep into the knock-out stages in Japan.

“I think the game is built massively on defence now,” he told TRU at Scotland’s base on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

“It's probably at the forefront of our game. Defence will win you games and we have been working on structures as we believe we slipped up a few times in pivotal moments in past games.

“We believe we can score tries through our defence. I know that sounds silly, but if we put teams under pressure then they will slip up at some point. The game is built on the back of defence.

“We believe we have the players and the ambition and attack to score tries, but we've leaked a few over recent games. We're not going to win Test matches if we're scoring two and conceding three.

“Defence has to be watertight and we're on the money at every opportunity. We're strong enough to turn defence into attack.”

Shape of things to come

Everyone knows that when there is a match in sight, things crank up a notch in training and Hogg has given an insight into how things will be working this week.

“This week it is about getting in as much shape and set piece work as we can,” he explained.

“There's a lot of new combinations so every day we have to take a step closer to winning games and make sure we're in a better place than where we started the session.

“We have to make the most of training as every rep counts in Test match rugby.

“There's a lot of experience within the squad now and a lot of young boys coming through who are asking the right questions and are willing to learn and improve.

“We feel we're in a good place and everyone is working hard towards the same goal of winning this weekend and hopefully we can do that.”

Prankster gets his ‘game face’ on

Meanwhile, Hogg admits he is getting tired of carrying out pranks on his international team mates - and now he wants to make the opposition look silly instead when they play France at the weekend.

The last eight weeks or so have seen Scotland travel to Inverness, Portugal, St Andrews and spend a lot of time at Oriam near Edinburgh.

The squad has been cut from 44 to 40 in recent days, but the players have seen a lot of each other and cheeky chap Hogg admits he is happy that games are now coming into view.

“[Being in training camp for so long] It has been a nightmare if I am honest. There are only so many times you can have fun in terms of hiding people’s kit or jumping out on people,” Hogg stated.

“Thankfully John Barclay [who famously pranked Hogg previously] has been too tired and has not been able to jump out on me!

“There is a time and a place to be the class clown and I have been working incredibly hard and also trying to have as much fun off the field because we spend a lot of time together.

“We have had a load of people coming into camp to speak to us talking about their experiences, we have had dinners out, we have had trips and we have tried to keep it as lively and as fun as we possibly can, but we want to play.

“We now have an opportunity to pull on the Scottish jersey [in the upcoming warm-up matches] and there is no better feeling.

“It has been a long time coming and the boys are champing at the bit to get out there. The 23 players picked at the weekend will have the chance to get the ball rolling.”


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