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Graham praise for Scotland forwards
PA Sport
March 5, 2007

Scotland forwards coach George Graham believes the national side's pack is the strongest one the country has had in a long time.

Graham also believes the Scotland pack can provide the platform from which the national team can bounce back after last Saturday's shock defeat to Italy with a win over Triple Crown-chasing Ireland this weekend.

``I have no doubt in my mind that this is one of the best packs that Scotland have had for many a year - and that is not false bravado,'' he said.

``I'm not saying that because I'm in charge of them, I'm saying that because of the boys we have in there.

``They are a great bunch of guys, they've got a great attitude, and in training they are very positive -it is just about getting things right on the day.

``I was very pleased with the way the pack stacked up against Italy. We're not the biggest pack in the world, but the way that my guys have improved over the last couple of seasons is fantastic, and we just need to continue to go up and up.

``We are very competitive, and as we saw against Wales a few weeks ago, on our day we can dominate teams.

``The Irish pack are doing very, very well - they are very competitive, they are aggressive around the breakdown and their set-pieces are quite steady - but the Scottish coaches have done their homework and we are aware of that.

``We'll approach this game the same as we approach any other game,'' he added.

Asked how his team were handling the inevitable psychological hangover caused by Scotland's 37-17 defeat to Italy in their last Murrayfield outing, Graham was bullish in his response.

``Everyone takes a beating when you lose to a team that you are expected to win against, but the fact that we lost against England then bounced back against Wales shows the mental strength of this squad,'' he said.

``Sometimes results like that give the players a little spur to play better and I think the guys are looking forward to Saturday - it is a great chance for them to redeem themselves.''

Graham praised the Scottish medical team for their success in helping Chris Paterson, Dave Callam and Euan Murray recover from the various injuries suffered against Italy.

All three are expected to be available for selection when the team is announced on Wednesday morning.

``The medical team have been working very hard and we're confident that all the guys who picked up knocks against Italy will be fit for Saturday,'' added Graham.

``Everyone trained today, albeit some guys took a larger part in the session than others, but we think they'll all be okay.

``We've probably got the best medical team in Britain.''

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