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Laidlaw determined to grasp last chance to shine at a World Cup

Scotland are fighting to avoid an early exit after losing to Ireland in their opening match.

This will be Greig Laidlaw’s final World Cup (Gareth Fuller/PA)
This will be Greig Laidlaw’s final World Cup (Gareth Fuller/PA)

By Andy Newport, PA, Kobe

Scotland vice-captain Greig Laidlaw has vowed to go down fighting as he looks to salvage his final World Cup.

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The 33-year-old has already confessed this will be his last taste of rugby’s biggest competition as he prepares to bring the curtain down on his career.

But he and the rest of the Dark Blues squad are flirting with an early exit in Japan after making a woeful start to their Pool A campaign against Ireland last Sunday.

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Laidlaw was unable to help Scotland get off to a winning start against Ireland (Ashley Western/PA)

The 27-3 pasting in Yokohama means Gregor Townsend’s men cannot afford to lose any of their final three games, starting with Monday’s clash against Samoa in Kobe.

Now Clermont Auvergne scrum-half Laidlaw is determined to grasp his last opportunity to shine on the game’s main stage.

He said: “I’ll certainly be giving it my all like the rest of the boys.

“Any time you don’t win a Test match you’re disappointed. It doesn’t get any easier, especially knowing I’m not going to play in another World Cup.

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Scotland will be looking to get back on track against Samoa on Monday (Jae Hong/AP)

“These tournaments only roll round every four years so it’s a big opportunity and I’ll be highly motivated come Monday night so we can get a foothold in this group and this World Cup.”

The morale levels are slowly returning to normal but Laidlaw admitted the Scots’ dressing room bore a gloomier look in the immediate aftermath of their dismantling by the Irish.

A piece written by the Scottish Rugby Union’s ‘independent commentator’ which appeared on the team’s official website tried to put a positive spin on the display, insisting fans should have had ‘no realistic expectation’ that their team could have upset Joe Schmidt’s world number one side.

Any time you don't win a Test match you're disappointed. It doesn't get any easier, especially knowing I'm not going to play in another World Cup. Greig Laidlaw

But that explanation did not wash with Laidlaw.

The former skipper said: “Well firstly I don’t think it came from the SRU. I think it was an outside party and it was on the website.

“We’re extremely upset and any time we go out and pull on our jerseys it doesn’t essentially matter who is in front of us, we want to win the game and believe we can.

“We didn’t do that at the weekend so we’re absolutely gutted.

“But it’s gone. Sadly for us we’ll never play that Test match again. The 23 that get the honour of playing on Monday will have to put it right.

“I’m not going to dress it up any other way – it’s been hard (lifting the boys).

“We’ve just had the number one ranked team in the world up first.  Were we pleased with our performance? No, far from it. But now every game is a knock-out and we need to get it right against Samoa on Monday night.”

The Samoans are set to be without centre Rey Lee-Lo and hooker Motu Matu’u at the Misaki Stadium after both were cited for dangerous tackles during Tuesday’s win over Russia.

Laidlaw is not expecting the Pacific Islanders to resort to similar means to stop his side – but admits Scotland will have to be ready for a physical battle.

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Scotland can expect a physical battle against Samoa (Jae Hong/AP)

He said: “I don’t think it is a nastiness (from Samoa). I know ‘Motz’ Matu’u pretty well, I played with him at Gloucester. He just likes to hit people pretty hard. It is part of the way they are as people.

“They like that physical part of the game. It is just in their make-up and how they play the game.

“In these knock-out games it’s vitally important that we keep our discipline no matter what’s happening round about us. “

PA

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