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Houston heat will not hamper Scots in Vern Cotter's first Test, says Duncan Hodge

Duncan Hodge, the Scotland assistant coach, is confident his players will cope with the heat and humidity of Houston when they open their summer Test series by taking on the USA Eagles in the Texas city on Saturday.

The sultry conditions have already restricted the Scots' training programme, which has been focused on short bursts of activity rather than lengthy sessions. But while an evening kick-off in the BBVA Compass Stadium means Scotland will not be struggling against the worst of the weather, the temperature is still expected to be around 30ºC at the start of the game.

Preparations have also been compromised by the involvement of so many players in season-ending finals last weekend. "It has been a tough week in terms of guys arriving on three sets of flights," said Hodge. "We literally had a walk through on Monday, a session on Tuesday, we will have a session tomorrow and then a Test match. That is it."

Ireland beat the USA 15-12 in the Compass Stadium a year ago but a number of their players admitted afterwards that they had found the heat and humidity difficult to deal with. However, with many of the USA players drawn from coastal states or attached to European clubs, Hodge suggested that they would be no better suited to the conditions than the Scots. "They have a lot of guys who are no different to us because they play in Europe," he said. "They will be finding it tough, too."

Hodge was at fly-half, and scored two tries, the last time Scotland took on the Eagles on American soil. That was in 2002, when the tourists recovered from a surprise loss to Canada the previous weekend to win 65-23 in San Francisco, an occasion now notorious for the fact that Nathan Hines became the first Scot to be sent off in a Test match.

Hodge points out that the Eagles are a far better side now than they were then. "They are a very physical team," he explained. "You watch their rugby and they create a high number of turnovers, more so than a lot of teams. We know that is coming and that we have to deal with that."

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