Planet Rugby

Hamilton relishing Boks challenge

16th November 2013 13:16

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SKY_MOBILE Jim Hamilton Scotland

Powerhouse: Jim Hamilton

Scotland second-row Jim Hamilton knows he needs a big performance on Sunday to cement his place in Scott Johnson's starting lineup.

The Scots welcome a physical South African side to Murrayfield this weekend, and the clash is the first chance the 6ft 8in workhorse has had to impress in this year's November Tests.

And with such stiff competition for the two starting lock berths from the likes of Tim Swinson (last week's Man of the Match against Japan), Richie and Jonny Gray and Al Kellock, Hamilton is aware of the need for a solid display.

"Jonny and Tim have been fantastic. I've watched their progress over the last year or two," Hamilton told the Daily Record.

"The way Tim performed in his first Murrayfield international last week against Japan was brilliant.

"People claim all competition is great - and they are correct.

"When you get up in the morning stiff and achey you just have to remember that these young lads are snapping at your heels.

"It just makes you all the more determined to improve and improve again so you can keep that jersey."

The giant second-row, now 30 years old, admits the future rests with the likes of Swinson and Gray Jnr, both of whom have been standouts amid Glasgow Warriors' fine early-season form.

"On one hand you never want to give up but on the other you know you are not going to go on for ever," acknowledged Hamilton.

"As much as anyone I want to see Scotland do well and be successful so to have these guys coming through makes you realise you would be leaving the team in good shape when the time comes.

"There certainly will be pressure on Richie Gray and me at the weekend and that is the way it should be. The competition for places is definitely the strongest I have known during my Test career.

"It is only right that with the World Cup a couple of years away, we have a long-term plan."

Hamilton will go head-to-head with infamously bruising Springbok counterpart Bakkie Botha, with the 34-year-old recalled to Heyneke Meyer's touring squad after a three-year absence from the Test arena.

Botha plies his trade with Toulon in the Top14 - where Hamilton also represents Montpellier - and the Scot can perhaps take encouragement from the Bok's longevity.

"From the day I left for France two years ago I always said to myself every morning at the gym in Toulon, 'I still want to play in the green and gold'," said Botha.

"I'm taking it week to week and I'm just happy to be part of this amazing squad after two years."

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