Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

New sense of hope for Scotland's Greig Laidlaw ahead of Six Nations

Scotland skipper Greig Laidlaw risked re-living the Dark Blues' painful World Cup exit by watching a re-run of the controversial defeat to Australia - but instead came away with a new sense of hope.

The scrum-half revealed part of his preparations for this Saturday's opening RBS 6 Nations clash with England at Murrayfield involved reviewing the tapes of his side's last match.

However, that put the Gloucester man in danger of suffering another wave of depression as he sat down for a replay of the 35-34 quarter-final defeat to the Wallabies at England 2015.

Vern Cotter's men looked set to claim a shock victory and with it a place in the last four until referee Craig Joubert handed the Aussies a disputed last-gasp penalty.

Bernard Foley put over the kick to snatch a famous win from the Scots' grasp but Laidlaw says looking back on that match in the cold light of day has only raised his excitement levels ahead of taking on Eddie Jones' new-look England.

Asked if he was excited by the look of his own team, the captain - who admits he is still angered by the way Joubert handled those decisive final few minutes at Twickenham - said: "Yeah, very much so. I actually watched the Australia game last night for the first time in full. I got excited watching it.

"I was able to take the emotion away from it and crikey, we played some good rugby. It gave me a great feeling.

"That anger from how the game finished will never disappear. I've been asked about it and it will come and go. But we can use it in the right way.

"I simply watched the tape back as a game of rugby and I got a lot out of it. We played well but we could have played even better.

"Now it's about building momentum. It's a great squad environment to be in right now and that's been built by the coaches. Those little things go a long way in my opinion."

If Scotland are to get their Championships off to a winning start, they will have to muster together their first opening-day triumph since beating France in Edinburgh a decade ago.

That is not the only stat which indicates the omens are not in the home side's favour this weekend.

You have to look back eight years to find their last victory over the Auld Enemy and 17 to uncover details of their most recent title win.

But Laidlaw believes it is now time to write a new chapter in the record books.

"We need to move on from the World Cup now," he stressed. "Clearly Scotland have underperformed in the tournament in the past but us as a team, this is our time in the jersey. If we can be the team who turned that around, that would be a great legacy for us to leave for the next group.

"We're totally fixed on doing that.

"But those stats don't impact our mindsets because we can't be thinking negative at all. Our last performance was a good one and we were extremely close to making it into that semi-final.

"We've got to take the good points from that game forwards as well as the lessons on why we fell short. If we can do that we will be in a good place.

"It starts in our training. We're trying to get that no-excuse mentality drilled into the squad. I think we're getting there."

With three away fixtures against Wales, Italy and Ireland, the Scots have it all to do this year.

But Laidlaw has backed his men to bounce back from last year's mortifying whitewash.

He said: "The Six Nations is a momentum-based tournament, so if you can win early it gives you confidence. Winning your home games is also extremely important.

"We need to grab the opportunity. It's going to be a tough game. England have got good players and a strong set-up but we know the task ahead.

"History shows a defeat in the first game is not good. It's a big game this weekend? We understand that.

"In a tournament like this you can only take one game at a time and that's what we're doing. We're completely focused for Saturday afternoon."


From Belfast Telegraph