Leslie fit to face the French
February 29, 2000

Scotland captain John Leslie has declared himself fit for the Six Nations match against France at Murrayfield on Saturday.

The New Zealand-born centre, who has been struggling with a bruised hip, played only 10 minutes of Scotland's opening Six Nations game against Italy and missed the trip to Dublin to play Ireland. The Scots lost both matches heavily.

Leslie tested the hip in a club match for Newcastle Falcons on Sunday.

"Obviously, I'm a bit sore in places but that is only to be expected in a full blooded contact situation," he said after a Scotland training session on Monday.

"All rugby players feel the knocks the day after a game."

Leslie believes the (Five Nations) champions can pick themselves off the floor after the disappointment of their opening two games.

"Our performances to date have not been those expected of a Scotland side," he said. "We're now fully focused on putting ourselves back on song. We're determined to put on a show."

The Scotland skipper admitted to being "devastated" by the defeat in Rome and equally disappointed after Scotland's Dublin debacle.

"But that's gone now. We can't undo those results," he said.

Scotland assistant coach John Rutherford is convinced Leslie's return will make a "massive difference" to the team.

"It's a huge plus to have John back in the team. He has a big influence on the players round about him. I think that Gregor Townsend will benefit from John's presence.

But Rutherford warned: "We're not expecting miracles from John. Other players have to perform. All it takes is five or six players to be below their best for Scotland to be beaten.

"France have such strength in depth. They have a very good pack which means that we will have to scrummage very well. They have as good a front row as any in the world."

Coach Ian McGeechan is expected to name his team on Wednesday.

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