Murray Kinsella reports from Murrayfield
THE SCOTS ARE up for this one, make no mistake.
Scrum-half Greig Laidlaw sat in the relatively calm surroundings of one of the hospitality suites in Murrayfield after leading his team through their captain’s run in blustery conditions and gave off a vibe of calm, steely determination.
There’s a yellow weather warning in place forecasting strong winds in Edinburgh tomorrow and Scotland are planning on brewing up a storm with a statement win over Ireland on the pitch.
Scotland during their captain’s run at Murrayfield. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO
“If we want to compete and take the next step, it’s games like this you need to win against quality opposition,” said Laidlaw in underlining that tomorrow is an opportunity for Scotland to underline that they are now genuine Six Nations contenders.
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“Ireland are certainly that, they’ve proved it over the last couple of years in the championship. They’re one of the best teams in the world, so we’ve got a lot of respect for them. If we’re going to win tomorrow, we’re going to have to play one of our best games.”
Laidlaw didn’t shirk questions about whether this game means anything for the World Cup clash between the sides later this year – “obviously it all helps” – or whether he thinks Ireland could be in for the kind of collapse England suffered last year – “Well, I hope so, for sure!” – but he stressed that the Scots are focused on the here and now.
“We feel we can cause any team in the world problems with our attacking game and we plan to do that tomorrow,” said the Clermont halfback.
“If we can get our hands on the ball, we can create quick ball. That’s in our control. If we can create opportunities, it’s up to us to take them. On the flip side, we want a strong defensive performance tomorrow as well.”
Ireland will certainly test Gregor Townsend’s side when they have the ball and Scotland defence coach Matt Taylor scoffed at the idea that Joe Schmidt’s men are predictable.
“I read those comments,” said Taylor. “I’ve been involved with the Scottish team for six years and even for two with Glasgow when Joe Schmidt was with Leinster and I’d say they’re far from predictable.
Scotland boss Gregor Townsend. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO
“For me, they’re excellent, their coaching team is excellent, they are probably one of the best coaching teams in the world in terms of how they play the game.