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Greig Laidlaw: Scotland have strength in depth to cope with loss of Matt Scott

Published 09/03/2016

Scotland centre Matt Scott has suffered elbow ligament damage
Scotland centre Matt Scott has suffered elbow ligament damage

Skipper Greig Laidlaw believes Scotland now have the strength in depth that will allow them to cope with Matt Scott's enforced lay-off.

Edinburgh centre Scott has been ruled out for the rest of this season's RBS 6 Nations Championship with an elbow injury.

The 25-year-old may even require surgery after damaging ligaments during his club side's Guinness Pro12 clash with Connacht last Friday.

It is yet another set-back for Scott, who started the Championship opener to England before a thigh injury ruled him out of the subsequent clashes with Wales and Italy, and a major headache for head coach Vern Cotter as he prepares for Sunday's game with France.

But Laidlaw is confident the Scots have enough alternatives to thrive in 34-cap Scott's absence.

Mark Bennett and Duncan Taylor forged the midfield partnership when Scotland finally ended their nine-game Six Nations losing streak by beating the Azzurri 36-20 in Rome last month, while Cotter also has Peter Horne and Glasgow's Alex Dunbar to select from.

Laidlaw - who will hook up with his former Gunners team-mate when Scott joins Gloucester this summer - said: "It's a big blow. Unfortunately for Matty, he's picked up a number of injuries in recent times.

"It's unfortunate for us as a squad too because he's good player. We've always said, if Scotland are going to pick up wins we need competition for places.

"But we're fortunate right now that Alex Dunbar is coming back to fitness. We're starting to get a bit of depth in the centres which we haven't had in recent times."

It is not just the centres where Scotland are well stocked, though. Cotter has plenty of options in the back three and speculation has risen that veteran wing Sean Lamont may be approaching the end of his international career.

The 35-year-old - Scotland's second most capped player with 103 appearances - knows the chatter will not stop until he hangs up his boots but he has no intention of treating Sunday's clash with Les Bleus as his Murrayfield farewell.

"I was having this conversation with the missus yesterday," said the Glasgow back. "She said it could be my last game at Murrayfield but I said, 'no it's not'.

"However, I suppose it could be - you could say that for any player with the threat of injury and non-selection hanging over you. It's a cliche but I just play every game as if it's my last.

"I'll keep going. I've always said that. I'll become surplus to requirements rather than retire."

And Laidlaw is in no rush to see his team-mate call it a day, saying: "Sean 's made a big contribution. To have won over 100 caps speaks for itself.

"He has been written off in the past but always comes back stronger . He's 35 but is in great condition. Knowing Sean, he will feel he's not done yet."

And Laidlaw feels the same about Scotland's Six Nations prospects after ending their two-year wait for a win.

Now he wants to put three more ugly records to bed when they face Guy Noves' burly squad.

It is 10 years since the Scots last beat France and three since they registered either a Championship win on home soil or back-to-back victories.

"It would be nice to win here at Murrayfield," said the scrum-half. "We've not done it for a while and we're desperate to do so.

"We've certainly looked at that record and we're desperate to change the habit. The 15 players who get the opportunity are going to go all out to win.

"We want to win back-to-back games in the tournament, which we also haven't done for a long time.

"We put a fair bit of pressure on ourselves to make sure we follow Italy up with another win. It's that internal pressure that we put on each other as a group that is going to drive this team forward. It's up to nobody else to get the win.

"After the brilliant win in Rome, we've got to park that now and take another step forward. We can't relax. Just winning one game is not good enough. We need to go and win another one now.

"There's been no weight lifted off our shoulders. We're coming back to Murrayfield and the expectation is that we need to win again. There is always pressure when you play for Scotland. We need to embrace that."

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