World Cup hopeful Ben Healy delighted to put ‘best foot forward’ against Italy

Scotland rookie Ben Healy was delighted to land the man of the match award against Italy on a day when he knew he had to deliver a big performance to keep his hopes of going to the World Cup alive.

The 24-year-old Edinburgh fly-half appears to be vying with Gloucester counterpart Adam Hastings for a place in Gregor Townsend’s 33-man squad, which is due to be finalised over the next couple of weeks.

And Healy – who made his Scotland debut as a replacement in the Six Nations match against Italy in March – stepped up and marked his first start by kicking 10 points from a possible 12 and playing a prominent part in two of his team’s three tries as they defeated the Azzurri 25-13 at Murrayfield on Saturday.

“Probably a little bit, yes,” he said when asked if he felt pressure to produce the goods.

“It was more important that we got the win and put into practice a lot of things we’d been working on throughout pre-season.

“But without question, I knew I had to have a good game against Italy because there are only four warm-up games and there are other lads that need to play games.

“Realistically, I knew I had to put my best foot forward.”

Scotland v Italy – The Famous Grouse Nations Series – Murrayfield

Ben Healy kicked 10 points in Scotland’s win (Jane Barlow/PA)

Healy played at Under-20 level for his native Ireland, but he qualifies for Scotland through his Scottish-born mother.

The stand-off was called up to Townsend’s squad for the first time for the Six Nations earlier this year just after his impending transfer from Munster to Edinburgh this summer was announced.

Having been involved with the national team for the best part of seven months, serving as back-up to the talismanic Finn Russell, he was delighted to finally make his first start.

“It was great to get the start,” he said. “You have a bit more control of the week when you know you’re starting rather than coming off the bench.

“The boys were brilliant to work with all week. It’s been really good to build all those connections with the boys over the past few weeks and then put it into practice.

“It was far from perfect as a team performance but it was a step in the right direction.

“It was great to play in front of a crowd like that at Murrayfield and get across the white line with a result.”

Healy – who will begin life with Edinburgh once his World Cup commitments are over – has enjoyed the opportunity to get to know his new Scottish colleagues during their gruelling summer training camp.

“I’ve loved being part of the squad for the last couple of months,” he said. “It’s my first World Cup pre-season and it’s probably the hardest I’ve done.

“It doesn’t really compare to any I’ve done at club level in terms of the intensity and the volume of work you get through.

“It’s been great to be in camp and build connections, which is something we’ve put a real emphasis on in the last few weeks and months.”

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