Seal of ap­proval Har­ris go­ing into tour­na­ment with con­fi­dence

Gloucestershire Echo - - WORLD CUP COUNTDOWN -

CHRIS Har­ris has al­ready se­cured Gre­gor Townsend’s seal of ap­proval and now the Glouces­ter cen­tre wants to help Scot­land gain recog­ni­tion as gen­uine World Cup con­tenders.

The 28-year-old ad­mits he has had to ride a wave of emo­tions in re­cent weeks.

He was plunged to the depths of de­spair as his for­mer club Newcastle Falcons side were rel­e­gated from Eng­land’s top-flight at the end of last sea­son.

But his flag­ging con­fi­dence lev­els were hauled up again by Townsend’s de­ci­sion to name him in his squad for Ja­pan ahead of try machine Huw Jones and Northamp­ton young­ster Rory Hutchin­son.

Now with that show of faith, the 28-year-old is march­ing to­wards the Dark Blues’ tour­na­ment opener with Ire­land next Sun­day with a strut that means busi­ness.

And the Durham-born mid­fielder is eye­ing up the Yoko­homa show­down as a po­ten­tial spring­board to the lat­ter stages.

Har­ris said: “There is al­ways a bit of worry while you wait to see if you are in the squad but once I got the call to say I was go­ing I was ab­so­lutely de­lighted.

“Was it a con­fi­dence booster? Yeah, mas­sive - ab­so­lutely. I’m feeling so pos­i­tive at the mo­ment and just want to get stuck into the World Cup now.

“There was a lot of com­pe­ti­tion in the cen­tres but know­ing that I’ve made it has given me a real boost.

“Start­ing against France in the warmup games and scor­ing a try was a big mo­ment for me, I feel like I’ve kicked on from there. I’m fully con­fi­dent now.

“Go­ing to a World Cup is def­i­nitely up there (with the best things I’ve achieved in my ca­reer). I’ve taken things step by step - get­ting called up ini­tially, then win­ning my first cap, then my first start.

“I was even chuffed just mak­ing it into the wider squad.

“So now that I’m here in Ja­pan I don’t want to just stand still. That’s how I’ve got to where I am now, by not rest­ing on what I’ve got.

“You have to have that am­bi­tion to bet­ter your­self. Un­less you have this nat­u­ral abil­ity to be awe­some all the time with­out putting much effort in then you have to work as hard as pos­si­ble.

“Pro­fes­sional sport is a roller-coaster ride for most ath­letes with the highs and the lows you go through.

“Be­ing rel­e­gated with Newcastle was the ul­ti­mate low. I was ab­so­lutely dev­as­tated - yet it’s the op­po­site feeling be­ing named in the World Cup squad.

“But I want to go fur­ther. Per­son­ally, I want to be start­ing games, to be the num­ber one. With Scot­land I want to go as far as I can, to win a World Cup.

“The boys all firmly be­lieve we can but right now we’re just strip­ping it back and tak­ing it one game at time, which means all we’re fo­cus­ing on is Ire­land.”

Scot­land will have to weather a storm both on the pitch and from the heav­ens next week­end.

They are fore­cast to take on the world’s num­ber one ranked side amid a tor­ren­tial thun­der­storm but Har­ris reck­ons wet and wild con­di­tions will be sweet re­lief af­ter a week spent swel­ter­ing at their Na­gasaki train­ing camp.

“This place is ab­so­lutely melt­ing but I think we’re adapt­ing quite well,” he said. “We trained out in Por­tu­gal ear­lier in the sum­mer which has helped a bit but the hu­mid­ity out here is un­real.

“Once we get to Tokyo and it’s 22 de­grees we’ll all be like, ‘Ah, lovely.’

“But it will still be tough con­di­tions out there. It’s sup­posed to be rain­ing so it will in­ter­est­ing.

“The game plan won’t change but the weather will dic­tate how much we can play. Our de­fence will be ready to get at them and put their skills un­der pres­sure.

“But we don’t want to over play in ar­eas if it’s wet. We can’t mess around deep in our half but we’ve got a good enough skill set to play how we want to play.”

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