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Scotland coach Vern Cotter stays optimistic ahead of Six Nations game in Cardiff

Published 11/02/2016

Duncan Taylor comes in for Scotland against Wales
Duncan Taylor comes in for Scotland against Wales

Vern Cotter insists Scotland remain on the right track despite heading to Wales on the back of eight successive RBS 6 Nations defeats.

The Dark Blues entered this year's competition full of optimism after their promising World Cup display.

But hope seems to have been extinguished already after another self-inflicted loss in their opener with England last Saturday.

However, for head coach Cotter the 15-9 Murrayfield defeat still represents progress two years on from the 20-0 humbling dished out to predecessor Scott Johnson's side.

Speaking before flying to Cardiff to face Warren Gatland's Dragons, the Kiwi said: "You've got to be realistic. Last year we came last in the Six Nations and were very disappointed.

"The World Cup was a positive for us though. We got to the quarter-finals and came through some critical games like Samoa. That showed the players have maturity.

"Now we're getting into situations were we can win. That's exciting. Hopefully the players will get the opportunity to nail a big game.

"Internally we know we're on the right track. We'll keep working away and hopefully with a little luck we'll get what we're aiming for and things will become easier.

"But let's put everything into perspective. We lost by six points against England. We weren't happy with that as there were opportunities to win the game.

"However, I'd rather be in the position to win than be 20 points behind with no chance."

The former Clermont Auvergne boss believes an extra week's training has helped his team prepare as they seek to find a way through the physically imposing Welsh defence.

He said: "We've spent another week together. The weather has been kinder to us. It's been nice to get out there and not have that horizontal rain and sleet coming down on top of us.

"There were critical moments last week when we lost possession so the accuracy is one of the things we've been looking at.

"But we didn't have to drive that home to the players. They are fully aware of that."

It's nine years since Scotland last managed a win over Wales - and 14 since they escaped Cardiff with a win.

But centre Duncan Taylor insists there is an extra determination amongst the Scotland players as they prepare to return to the newly-renamed Principality Stadium.

The Saracens back, promoted to start after Edinburgh's Matt Scott was ruled out after sustaining a thigh injury in training on Wednesday, said: "I think we all have a lot to prove to each other. We're going down there to put things right.

"Do we have to prove to each other that we're a good side before worrying about what the rest of the world thinks? Well I think so.

"We let ourselves down last week in the final third and I think we all know we had a little more to give. It's one of those ones where we need to earn that respect within the team.

"But it's a clean slate this weekend and we're excited about going down there."

Scotland have agreed to Welsh requests for the roof on their huge 74,500 HQ to be kept shut during Saturday's 80 minutes.

But Cotter will hope that is the only thing his side concede to the hosts as they seek to drastically improve on the team's last meeting in Cardiff.

Johnson - who is now Scotland's director of rugby - ended his reign as caretaker coach in humiliation when his team were thrashed 51-3 after Stuart Hogg was sent off for planting a deliberate shoulder into Dan Biggar's face.

Cotter said: "In that game there was a red card and last year at home there was a yellow card. That was a three-point game and the sin-binning had a large say in that.

"So if looking back two years ago does anything, it reinforces the importance of discipline. I thought we did a good job against England in terms of conceding penalties.

"The plan is to keep 15 players on the paddock and be as competitive as possible."

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