France v Scotland: Scott Steele would like to have the chance to fight with Antoine Dupont

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France v Scotland: Scott Steele would like to have the chance to fight with Antoine Dupont


Twelve months ago Scott Steele was without a club. Now the Scottish scrum-half is set to test himself against the best player in the world.

Scott Steele scores Scotland’s sixth try in the win over Italy. Image: Ross Parker / SNS

If Steele gets the green light to play against France in the Six Nations final on Friday, he will find himself in direct competition with Antoine Dupont.

The French No.9 was the league player last year and is widely regarded as the fit player of world rugby.

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It’ll be a close look at Steele’s credentials, but the Harlequin man relishes the challenge.
“You want to test yourself against the best – and he’s playing some really good stuff a minute,” Steele said of Dupont.
“He has a really big pack of attackers in front of him, which gives him a good platform.
“But, as a rugby player, you always want to play against the best. This is something I look forward to if I get the chance. I would appreciate it.
“We know the challenge ahead. France will be tough, a real physical team that played very good rugby.
“But if we strive to be the best we can be, there’s no reason we can’t go out there and win.”
The spirited Steele made his first international start in Italy’s 52-10 demolition on Saturday and his performance was praised by Gregor Townsend. The scrum-half marked the occasion with a try in the second half and his judicious delivery kept the Scottish attacking going.
With Stuart Hogg deployed at a dead end, it was an unusual pairing. Finn Russell will return at 10 for France, with Hogg returning to the back, but Townsend must choose between Steele and Ali Price for the No.9 role in Paris.

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Whether starting out or on the bench, Dumfries-born Steele has had an impressive breakthrough campaign for Scotland. Around the same time last year, his then-club London Irish told him they would not be offering him a new contract. The timing could not have been worse, as the coronavirus has hit the country and the sports field at a standstill.
It was a shock to the system for Steele, but he worked hard on his fitness during the long closing season and was offered a deal by Harlequins. He seized the opportunity with both hands and quickly caught Townsend’s attention, his versatility and willpower making him a true asset to Scotland.
His international debut against Wales last October saw him shunted in the wing as a series of injuries forced a hasty reshuffle and he was cast as an emergency striker against Ireland last week .
In between, he played his role as a replacement scrum-half in the historic win over England at Twickenham last month, before making his first start on Saturday.
“It was exciting to know that I would have a good chance at nine o’clock,” he said.
“It was a little less scary playing in my usual position rather than coming in the back row and not really knowing what was going on.
“And the game was great. Scoring eight tries was good for everyone and shows that we played some good things there.
“There is still a lot of things we can sort out, but personally, for me to give it a try and a first start was amazing.”

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