Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Laidlaw not eyeing captaincy

Greig Laidlaw has no desire to take over the Scotland captaincy from Kelly Brown on a permanent basis

Stand-in Scotland skipper Greig Laidlaw insists he has no plans to take the role from regular captain Kelly Brown on a permanent basis.

Edinburgh scrum-half Laidlaw will lead out the side for Sunday's autumn Test with South Africa after the Saracens flanker was rested by head coach Scott Johnson.

The Australian tactician has never confirmed Brown as his permanent skipper, despite usually bestowing the honour upon him, and will turn to Laidlaw for the second time this year this weekend.

The Murrayfield encounter will be Laidlaw's third match as captain after deputising for Brown during the summer clashes with the Springboks and Italy, but it will be his first on home soil.

However, amid any doubts over whether the Scotland captaincy might be up for grabs, Laidlaw has stressed he has no long-term ambitions to claim the armband for himself.

He told Press Association Sport: "I've spoken a lot with Kelly about captaining the side and he's been there for me this week, just like I'm there for him when he's captain.

"He's not playing though this week and I've got the honour of leading out Scotland. But he's an experienced guy and if I've got anything I need to ask he will be my first call.

"But as for whether I'd like the role permanently, Kelly is the current captain of this squad and I'm pretty laid back about the whole situation, so we will just see how it goes."

Laidlaw, 28, started out on his path to international rugby as a boy in his home town of Jedburgh and admits Sunday's match will be the fulfilment of a long-held ambition.

"It's a huge honour for myself," he said.

"It's something I'm excited about and now I'm looking forward to the weekend. I won't take the responsibility lightly.

"I captained the side twice in the summer but it will be a lot bigger for me doing it in front of a packed house at Murrayfield. Doing it here at home in Scotland is a huge occasion for me.

"It was always good memories for me coming to Murrayfield as a kid. I remember going up to the schoolboys enclosure with Jedburgh Minis.

"Did I ever expect all those years ago that I'd be leading a side out here? Well you always want that to happen but actually thinking that it will happen is a different thing. To realise this now is a special day for me and my family.

"But I can't get caught up in that occasion. We need to keep to our plan and be passionate at the same time to make sure we get the same result.

"It was always a great day out at Murrayfield and we want to recreate that for the youngsters of today who will be coming up for the match.

"We're hoping for a crowd of over 50,000 so if we can make their day on Sunday that would be excellent."

Laidlaw has faced the Springboks twice during his 22 outings as a Scotland player, losing 21-10 a year ago in Edinburgh before coming close in Nelspruit in June before ultimately crashing to 30-17.

The Scots had been 11 points up in that game at one stage but Jim Hamilton's sin-binning handed the initiative to the South Africans and they claimed 24 points in a rampant second-half display to kill off the Scot's challenge.

"We need to learn why we have fallen short a little in these last two games," said Laidlaw.

"We have had a good look at those games and we know discipline is going to be very important. We picked up a yellow card over there in the summer and that allowed them back in. I think that is why they won the game in the end.

"It gave them momentum so we need to make sure we learn from that.

"But we did compete with them during that game and of course that gives us confidence. We are capable of competing with these guys but we need to do it more regularly and get across the line for a win.

"But we aren't underestimating the size of the challenge. South Africa are not ranked second in the world for nothing."

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