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Rugby: Hit me with your best shot mates.

MARTIN LESLIE is hoping that the strong-arm Samoans will make him a target for their fearsome big hits at Murrayfield tomorrow.

Marty and his Scotland mates face the South Sea Islanders for the right to face the even mightier All Blacks in the World Cup quarter final on Sunday.

And he will be delighted if they single him out for special treatment - because it will mean more space and time for the rest of the team.

Flanker Leslie declared: "Back in New Zealand I played with, and against, most of the Samoan team and a few of them are close friends.

"But for 80 minutes, we will be the best of enemies and I am sure I will get some special attention because they know me so well.

"That won't bother me. Taking big hits makes me all the more determined to get up and thump them harder - unless, of course, they hit me so hard that I end up getting carted off on a stretcher!

"Seriously, if they home in on me then so much the better because it will mean there will be more gaps for the rest of the guys to exploit."

Marty urged his team-mates to run at the Samoans and not let them dictate the patterns of play.

Leslie needs no extra incentive to tee up a last-eight showdown against his countrymen - but he will be doubly thrilled to help the Scots to success in front of his dad, former All Blacks skipper Andy, who will be among the Murrayfield crowd.

As expected after a sizzling display against Spain on Sunday, James McLaren will line-up in midfield alongside Jamie Mayer - which means that another former Rugby League ace Alan Tait is on the bench and being lined up by coach Jim Telfer as an impact player to come on in the second half.

Telfer said: "We have picked who we think are the players in form and we feel we have the strongest centre combination."

Tait has been Scotland's most consistent try-grabber over the past three years, but Telfer was far from pleased with the former pro's display against Uruguay.

Telfer said: "There is more than just scoring tries to be taken into account - defence, taking the ball up and workrate.

"We can use him to come on at either centre, wing or full-back if the need arises."

Bryan Redpath was unlucky not to get the nod in front of Gary Armstrong, who will pick up his 50th cap.

And Doddie Weir is preferred to Stuart Grimes in the second row.

Telfer said: "You have to look at the lineup as a 22 not 15. We will be prepared to use subs at any time tactically - we have chosen Doddie for a certain reason and it doesn't mean that Stuart has been playing badly.

"It will be a formidable challenge but we think we can do well."

A delighted McLaren reckons his experience in the 13-a-side code will stand him in good stead for the biggest test of his career.

He echoed Leslie's sentiments by saying: "They are bound to come at us with a lot of big hits - but we can do the same to them.

"My background in league will help me cope because not only do they teach you to land the hits, but also to take them.

Rolling Stones fan Jamie has another reason for wanting to help dump Samoa - so he has the chance to beat the tally of Murrayfield appearances chalked up by his No1 hero Mick Jagger.

The group have played live at the stadium twice - and centre Jamie can go one better if he earns a tilt at the All Blacks.

He declared: "One of the biggest regrets of my life is that I have never seen the Stones live, despite TWICE having tickets for gigs.

"The first time was when I was playing rugby league in Canberra and the coach wouldn't let me miss training to see them in Sydney.

"I also hoped to see them at Murrayfield a few months ago, but my club Bourgoin reached the final of the French Cup on the same day."

Team: G Metcalfe, C Murray, J Mayer, J McLaren, K Logan, G Townsend, G Armstrong (capt), T Smith, G Bulloch, G Graham, S Murray, D Weir, M Leslie, G Simpson, B Pountney.

Subs: A Tait, D Hodge, B Redpath, C Mather S Grimes, P Burnell, R Russell.
COPYRIGHT 1999 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Duncan, Roddy
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 19, 1999
Previous Article:Football: Tam Cowan PARENTAL GUIDANCE RECOMMENDED; A Jamaican for Scotland? Next thing you know Craig will pick a Dons player.

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