It's time for Scotland's nearly men to grow up

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Another Rugby World Cup draws near, and Scotland supporters are entitled to carry more hope of substantial progress than they have at any point since the 1995 competition, but only if they can put to one side the disappointment of this year's Six Nations' whitewash letdown.

Scotland's first XV carries more power and threat than any time since the 1999 Five Nations winners, but now is the time they must turn promise into deeds.

Vern Cotter is not only the best coach Scotland have had since Jim Telfer, he is also the most attuned to the Scottish rugby mentality.

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His team has so far played with an increased tempo and attacking verve at times, but that they need to maintain that throughout a match against the better sides to progress, together with a sustained accuracy in their execution.

In Finn Russell we have a stand-off who may in time compare with his mentor Gregor Townsend, pivot of that 1999 team, or possibly even the elegant John Rutherford, architect of the 1984 Grand Slam.

Both Hidalgo-Clyne and Pyrgos will serve Russell and Scotland well, though the Edinburgh scrum-half would keep the tempo higher, and possibly high enough to cause real problems to the ageing Springboks, and if it came to that, the one-paced English back-row.

There are the questions over the front row, which just now can only be answered by WP Nel. Colin Deans, on Radio Scotland saids that Fraser Brown should start in front of Ross Ford, but this will be immaterial if Nel doesn't step up to the plate.

Ireland v Scotland - International Match

If however, the Scottish front row can hold its own, and the Gray brothers produce enough good ball then Scotland has a back division that can compete with the very best.

This will be probably by far the youngest ever Scottish World Cup squad, but if they can mature and grow as a unit through the tournament, they might just surprise quite a few people.

In Hogg they have a truly-world class performer, and with Johnny Gray fast on his way there; if a couple of Dunbar, Russell, Seymour and Bennett catch fire, then Scotland may just take off.

Can Scotland stake a claim for the Rugby World Cup? Have your say below!

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