Toolis encouraged by Scotland's progress despite loss to Boks

Ben Toolis earned his 14th cap for Scotland at the weekend

Scotland second-row Ben Toolis is encouraged greatly by the fact that his side can compete toe-to-toe with the world’s best teams - and still have a lot of room for improvement.

Scotland second-row Ben Toolis is encouraged greatly by the fact that his side can compete toe-to-toe with the world’s best teams - and still have a lot of room for improvement.

The Scots were edged out 26-20 by South Africa at BT Murrayfield on Saturday with little errors at key times and being bullied at the breakdown playing their parts as the hosts just came out on the wrong side of things after an enthralling 80 minutes.

Edinburgh Rugby’s Toolis, 26, won his 14th cap in the Test match and believes the defeat gives the squad plenty of food for thought as they look to continue building towards next year’s World Cup in Japan.

The Australian-born man said: “We’re disappointed with the loss, we’re never happy to lose, but there were a lot of positives in the game.

“To lose by only six points, and I think they’re easily a top three team in the world, there are a lot of positives and we’ll take that. We’ll review the game and fix the areas we need to fix. We’re still improving and I think that’s the exciting part, we’re coming together quite well. To only just lose with the struggles we had in this one is a good sign.”

“The Springboks are a very physical team, I think defensively, especially as a forward pack, we matched them at times but I think it’s obvious they won the breakdown battle. They’ve got great jackal threats and they performed well in that area.

“They defended really well. We found it hard to get momentum especially. The speed to the breakdown from the boys wasn’t good enough. We’ll look at that. They came off the line really hard and put pressure on the breakdown.

“A year out from a World Cup is when you can look to start putting your hand up [for selection] by playing consistently well.

“You want to get things rolling and get a few games under your belt. Head coach Gregor Townsend is trying to build a squad, he’s testing players out and putting pressure on them.

“The best teams in the world perform under pressure so it’s extremely important that boys are putting their hand up.

“We're thinking we are on here, we can compete with the best in the world. We've won nine out of the last 11 games at BT Murrayfield and pushed some teams close when we are away.

“I think definitely we are up there [in the world order], we're working towards the top five. Other teams are starting acknowledge that we are an improving side.

"That's the exciting thing. We're improving each year. We are scoring a lot more tries than we have in the past. We build this team from defence and we have come on leaps and bounds with that.

“We are focusing on that and, but we're definitely knocking on the door.”

With Sam Skinner having now come into the mix, Scotland second-row spots are now much coveted heading into 2019.

For now - with Richie Gray and Tim Swinson injured - Toolis and Jonny Gray look like Townsend’s ‘go to’ duo for the big games, but the former knows he has to keep his high levels of performance up.

“I was extremely pleased to get the nod to start alongside Jonny against South Africa,” he stated.

“I think we’ve been working pretty well together and overall I’m pretty happy with my game at the moment. Gregor has been really supportive and same with the other coaches, giving me really good feedback. That’s just the confidence you need and it’s really enjoyable playing alongside the boys. It’s the best job in the world.

“Next up is Argentina and we are now focused on them. Obviously, we had a good win over there in Resistencia in the summer. We played really well, but seeing them play since the summer, they’ve come on leaps and bounds massively.

“They are a very physical team, very good on the counter attack, have very good attacking backs and have big strong carriers.

“It’s going to be tough against them, but we’ll take the confidence from the good things that happened against South Africa and hopefully finish the Autumn Tests on a win."

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