Hastings: Scotland can make splash in Pool B

SCOTLAND legend Scott Hastings believes the national team's Pool B draw for the Rugby World Cup 2015 has given them the best possible chance of progression to the knockout stage.

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Scotland coach Scott Johnson, right, and skipper Kelly Brown have been handed a plum draw
Scotland coach Scott Johnson, right, and skipper Kelly Brown have been handed a plum draw

The Scots have been placed alongside South Africa and Samoa in the group section, with the other two members of the Pool to come from sides to qualify from the Americas 2 pot and Asia 1 section.

By contrast, England have been drawn in Pool A alongside Australia and Wales in what is the toughest group section of the four five-team pools.

But while Hastings has no doubt the Scots, who are without a head coach following Andy Robinson's resignation, have landed a kind draw, he believes the three-year period that will build up to the tournament in England is the most important in Scottish rugby's history.

The 65-times capped Scotland legend said: "This draw is as good as Scotland could have hoped for.

"We beat Samoa on their own soil earlier this summer and although we lost to South Africa we were very competitive.

"When you look at England's draw with Wales and Australia in Pool A alongside them, then we have to take our draw and be grateful.

"But the Rugby World Cup is three years away and that is an awful long time and a lot can change.

"What is vital for Scottish rugby is that we use that period to put our house in order. For me the three years leading up to the RWC 2015 are looking like the most important in the Scottish game's history.

"We know that South Africa and Samoa will both improve and it's absolutely vital we do too.

"The first step in that process is to make sure that the Scotland team that takes to the field to face England in our opening Six Nations game is ready to deliver a vast improvement on what has gone before."

With the Scots looking likely to be led into the Six Nations by Scott Johnson, the Australian assistant coach to Robinson, Hastings has called for a Scottish voice to be located within the coaching group.

The former Grand Slam- winning centre said: "There is just not enough time to try and complete the process of selecting a new head coach and having him in place for the Six Nations.

"So in all probability we will go with Scott Johnson and that is probably a sensible route in the short term.

"When you look at Stuart Lancaster and how he did with England when he stepped up, then Johnson probably deserves that opportunity.

"He has a lot more experience than Lancaster did when he was asked to step up.

"However, what we do need is a prominent Scottish voice within the coaching team for the Six Nations. For me that is a must."

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