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Laidlaw: Scotland aim 'unrealistic'

Grand Slam hero Roy Laidlaw has told Scotland to forget about winning the Rugby World Cup and merely focus on advancing from a tough Pool B.

Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson set the bold ambition of winning the tournament in June 2012 as part of a four-year plan which has yet to bear fruit.

Scotland, who finished with the RBS 6 Nations wooden spoon in March, first play Japan in Gloucester on September 23.

Next they play the United States (September 27), South Africa (October 3) and Samoa (October 10), in a potentially decisive game at St James' Park in Newcastle.

Four years ago, for the first time, Scotland failed to advance beyond the group stage.

Laidlaw believes that has to be the first target for Vern Cotter's side, dismissing Dodson's lofty aim as unrealistic.

"I don't think it's a realistic aim," he said.

"I think qualifying for the quarter-finals would be a realistic aim for us.

"I always worry about Scotland. The South Africa game is probably a bit above Scotland. Japan and USA will be difficult, but I think we can progress to the quarter-finals if we can beat Samoa."

Laidlaw, who was scrum-half in Scotland's 1984 Grand Slam triumph, was speaking from Jed Forest on the Rugby World Cup trophy tour and with 99 days to go to the opening game between hosts England and Fiji on September 18 at Twickenham.

He is pleased with the advances made under Cotter, but thinks a lack of strength in depth has been exposed.

Scotland's shortcomings have led to the active recruitment of overseas players, enticing them to Glasgow and Edinburgh in a bid to meet World Rugby's residency rules.

Glasgow back row Josh Strauss and Edinburgh prop WP Nel, both born in South Africa, have been named in Scotland's provisional World Cup squad, with their residency qualification to come through ahead of the tournament.

"I don't like the idea, but the reality is that everybody else does it so you're putting yourself at a disadvantage if you don't follow suit," Laidlaw added.

"Three years residency allows you to play for a country. I don't think that should be allowed."

Laidlaw is the uncle of Scotland's present captain Greig Laidlaw.

The Gloucester scrum-half is in one position where Scotland do have options, after Sam Hidalgo-Clyne impressed with Edinburgh this season.

Laidlaw added: "It's great we've got players like Hidalgo-Clyne coming through.

"He might not be ready to play in every game, but I'm sure he'll get quite a bit of rugby during the Rugby World Cup.

"Greig will always rise to the challenge. Greig needs somebody pushing him like that to make him play as well as he can.

"If we had that in every position in the Scottish team it would be heaven, competition for places and options with different styles of play."

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