Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby Six Nations

Scotland have to match Ireland's physicality: Paterson


Key figure: Finn Russell ran the show for Scotland against Italy
Key figure: Finn Russell ran the show for Scotland against Italy
Chris Paterson

By Cian Tracey

'Beware the wounded animal' is the message from Scotland as they prepare for what they expect to be a major backlash from Ireland.

Rugby round up Newsletter

Game previews, plus expert insights and exclusive commentary from the Belfast Telegraph sports team.

Confidence is high in the Scotland camp and while they are not underestimating the scale of the challenge that lies ahead in Murrayfield on Saturday, they have every right to feel that they can get another one over on Ireland in their own back yard.

Chris Paterson was involved in plenty of battles with Ireland throughout his 12-year international career and the former Scotland captain believes that Gregor Townsend's men must up their game in terms of the physicality stakes.

Scotland impressed against Italy last weekend but there is a feeling that they didn't show their full hand with what is to come against Ireland.

"I think physicality is the most important thing," Scotland's record points-scorer maintained.

"The Ireland-England game last week was on a different level in terms of physicality compared to the other two games.

"There were undoubtedly physical elements to the France-Wales game and our game against Italy but the level of physicality fluctuated throughout the game, whereas Ireland and England maintained a level that was just unbelievable for the whole 80 minutes.

"The consensus over here is that Ireland are still a quality team. They're second in the world so they are a phenomenal team, if not the best in the world.

"They came up against a team that was motivated by defeat in Twickenham last year and they brought a level of emotion that ultimately laid the platform for them to win."

Finn Russell expertly ran the show against a poor Italian side and he can expect a lot more traffic down his channel on Saturday.

"I thought he was outstanding," Paterson said of Russell.

"The best thing about Finn's game was his control. His bits of detail are exceptional.

"But you expect that from Finn because he has got that level of quality. Where he underlined his brilliance last weekend was his match control.

"It's a sign of his maturity and possibly from his time in France, having to play into a new strategy and test himself mentally."

Ireland's last trip to Edinburgh brings back all kinds of sour memories, which Paterson believes Scotland can feed off.

"The last time Ireland came here, they lost as well, which is a positive thing from Scotland's point of view because they know they can do it," he added.

"But I think they are going to have to reach and overcome that level of physicality that allows the platform to be laid for what will be a tight game."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph