TOM RYDER believes the key to Scotland's hopes of a successful tour of Australasia will rest on their ability to cope with the renowned physicality of their Southern Hemisphere opponents.
Andy Robinson's tourists will open the tour on Tuesday, June 5, with a Test against world No.2 ranked Australia at the Ausgrid Stadium before moving onto to face Fiji, at Churchill Park, on Saturday, June 16, with the tour climaxing in daunting fashion in Samoa a week later.
Ryder has captained England at U-16, U-18 and U-19 levels, as well as representing the red rose at the 2006 U-21 World Championship but the giant lock switched allegiance and made his debut for Scotland A against the USA in November 2010 qualifying through his Glasgow born father.
Now the 27-year-old is desperate to earn his first cap and particularly keen to face the South Sea Islanders in the last two Tests in what will be full metal jacket affairs.
He rapped: "I think the one thing you can guarantee is that the tests with Fiji and Samoa on their grounds will be brutal. We will be playing on hard ground in high temperatures so it is going to be very demanding.
"On top of that the South Sea Islanders love the whole physical match-up and the contact is going to be explosive to say the least. From my time with Saracens and it is just in their nature that they love the whole impact of the contact and the battle in and around the breakdown.
"We know that with these tests on their home soil they will be determined to get the better of us and I think it is going to be particularly vital that we meet them full on in the scrum. We just can't afford to take a step back."
The Scottish tourists left for their jaunt down under earlier today with Ryder being one of 11 Glasgow Warriors on the plane.
Although it is under-stood that Australia will not be fielding players from their Super-15 franchises, Ryder has no doubt that the first test will be a gruelling examination of the Scots ability to cash in on that.
The Warriors second row said: "If the Aussies are without some of their Super-15 players then that is only going to make the boys who pull on the gold shirts even more determined to make the most of that opportunity.
"Also Scotland beat the Wallabies at Murrayfield the last time the two sides met and I think on home soil they will want to take some revenge for that one. The bottom line is that for any player to pull on his countries shirt and run out for a test in front of his countrymen he is going to be giving it 110 per cent.
"We know that the first test can set the tone for the two that follow so it will be vital that we get off to a good start. Looking at it from a personal point of view it would mean the world to get my first cap against the Wallabies in Australia.
"But we know that we are under pressure to get results from this tour and the boys are determined to make it as successful as possible."