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Six Nations: Conor Murray will be in for another rough ride, says Greig Laidlaw

By Nick Purewal

Scotland skipper Greig Laidlaw has warned Conor Murray to expect another frosty welcome when he runs out at Murrayfield this Saturday.

The build-up to the Scots' opening RBS Six Nations clash has been overshadowed by a war of words involving the Ireland scrum-half.

Murray was critical of the Glasgow contingent amongst Vern Cotter's squad, accusing them of deliberately targeting him and consequently putting him at risk of injury during Munster's Champions Cup clash at Scotstoun on January 14.

The Warriors' coaching staff and playing squad have been adamant their tactics were robust but firmly within the law.

Now they have been given the backing of Dark Blues captain Laidlaw, the man who will line up opposite Murray this weekend.

And he has warned Murray that Scotland will also be looking to put the squeeze on.

Laidlaw said: "Glasgow did everything within the rules of the game. As a nine you are always going to get teams putting pressure on you.

"In that game, Glasgow got a charge down on him but they were trying to get the ball back - they weren't trying to deliberately injure the player.

"Will we be putting pressure on him? For sure we will. He's not going to come to Murrayfield and get an armchair ride.

"We need to do that to every Irish player but we can expect the same back, I'm sure."

With that warning ringing loud in his ears, the last thing Murray will have wanted to hear is that his playmaking partner Jonathan Sexton has been ruled out of the Edinburgh showdown.

The British and Irish Lions linchpin has been sidelined with a calf injury, meaning Ulster's Paddy Jackson will be tasked with pulling the strings.

But Laidlaw says Scotland should remain cautious.

"He has been struggling with injury so Ireland will probably have known that he wouldn't make Saturday a lot longer than we have," Laidlaw said. "I'm sure they have been training to cover that up.

"They have quality in behind, whether it be Paddy Jackson or the young fella from Munster (Rory Scannell).

"Their strength in depth is one of the keys to Ireland's recent success.

"Sexton is a quality player of course but we can't focus on one player. We will need to know Ireland's personnel inside and out. Now that they are making a change at 10 we'll adjust."

Cotter's team will enter this year's competition with real swagger given the performances of both Glasgow and Edinburgh on the European stage.

Warriors have reached the last eight of the Champions Cup for the first time, while their capital rivals have progressed to the same stage of the Challenge Cup.

Laidlaw said: "The Glasgow boys are bringing some real confidence and excitement. It's the same with the Edinburgh boys.

"There is definitely more about the squad this time."

Meanwhile, Edinburgh's Scotland prop WP Nel has had surgery on the neck injury that has ruled him out of the Six Nations.

Belfast Telegraph


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