George Gregan makes a bold prediction about Scotland ahead of the Rugby World Cup

Colin Newboult

Finn Russell following the Wales game in the Six Nations in 2023.

Former Rugby World Cup winner George Gregan is backing Scotland to be the surprise package of the upcoming global tournament.

The Wallaby legend, who was part of the 1999 squad that lifted the Webb Ellis Cup, believes that Gregor Townsend’s men will be a significant threat in France.

They have been written off by some quarters given that they were placed in the ‘pool of death’ alongside two of the favourites, Ireland and defending champions South Africa.

Top five teams

Scotland are currently fifth in the world rankings but they are still behind the Irish and Springboks, who are in first and fourth respectively.

As a result, few are expecting Townsend’s charges to progress into the quarter-finals, but Gregan believes that may help the Scots going into the World Cup.

“I don’t think anyone wants to play Scotland on any day. I think they’re a team that can put 30+ points against whoever they play, if they get it right,” he said on the official Rugby World Cup podcast.

“They’re under the radar, they’re in that ‘pool of death’ and nobody’s talking about them, and they might just turn up and do what was done to them in Japan.

“There will be a lot of players who were part of that who want to have another crack at getting into the deeper part of the tournament.

“They have the skills, they have the ability to do it.

“It’s the game the Wallabies have really struggled with in the last decade because they turn up and they make things uncomfortable.”

Scotland also have one of the most talented players in the game in fly-half Finn Russell, who will be crucial to their chances of succeeding in France.

“With fast ball, he’s probably one of the best decision-makers with that number on his back. When he injects himself, it makes it difficult (for the opposition),” Gregan added.

Other northern hemisphere contenders

The ex-Australia scrum-half also delved into the top Six Nations sides Ireland and France, who are fancied to go well at the World Cup.

Gregan was a pundit for the incredible Six Nations clash earlier this year and the 50-year-old was impressed by what he saw.

“The Six Nations game, which I was lucky enough to call, the first 40 minutes of that match was probably the best rugby I’ve seen in over a decade. It was stunning,” he said.

“They are well and truly the pacesetters at the moment. Ireland are going to go into this World Cup with form. They’ve done this before in 2019, and it didn’t go to plan, but I think they’re going to be really tough to beat if they get over that hurdle of the quarter-final.”

READ MORE: Scotland boss Gregor Townsend hints at first choice World Cup team after naming strong side for France Test