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Swinson taking lead from team-mates

Scotland lock Tim Swinson insists he will have no problem handling the nerves of his first RBS 6 Nations start so long as he has second-row partner Jim Hamilton beside him.

The 26-year-old Glasgow forward has three caps to his name but will make his Championships bow when the Scots run out in Dublin to face Ireland on Sunday.

Swinson admits he struggled to control the butterflies in his stomach during his first few outings as a Dark Blues international.

But he claims the calming influence of Montpellier's 50-cap line-out specialist Hamilton stopped the occasion getting the better of him.

"I've got better with the nerves," he said. "Everybody gets it before games. It helps when you have got players around you who are in a good frame of mind and who have been there before.

"I had Jim Hamilton beside me in the second row when I won my first cap and it was great to have him there. Hopefully it will be the same on Sunday.

"I've also tried to take a lead from Al Kellock as well. He's been a huge influence on me over my last year and a half at Glasgow. He has helped me and Johnnie Gray and a few other second rows coming through. He leads by example and if I can do the same I'll be doing well."

Swinson won his first two caps during the summer tour of South Africa, with starts against the Springboks and Italy then followed up by a man-of-the-match display against Japan in early November.

Sunday's clash at the Aviva Stadium will be another step up in terms of pressure but Swinson is doing his best to stay relaxed.

He said: "I'm just looking at it as another game for Scotland, which is a huge honour in itself. It's a real privilege to be playing for Scotland and to be playing in the Six Nations.

"It's been a year of firsts for me. I won my first cap during the summer in South Africa, then played my first match at Murrayfield in the Japan game.

"So the Six Nations is another first for me but hopefully it is not the last."

Ireland dominated last year's meeting at Murrayfield to such an extent that they claimed 78 per cent of the possession and 80 per cent of the territory during a bruising first half for the Scots.

Yet the Irish failed to take their chances and lost out 12-8 after a Greig Laidlaw-inspired display by the hosts.

The Irish will be desperate to make up for that loss but Swinson says Scotland have no reason to worry.

"Ireland had 78 possession and 80 per cent territory - so what?" he asked. "We still won. At the end of the day, people remember the victory. It was a great defensive display that day. Now we need to add to it with the things we've been working on over the last six months.

"There is nothing to be daunted about taking on Ireland. Their players are all pretty familiar to us. We play them often enough for our club sides in the Pro 12, and we've got a lot of guys who have played against Ireland before in the Six Nations.

"We have got to focus on ourselves and our own performance. We feel we have a side that can go there and win and improve as the Six Nations goes on. That's what we've got to focus on, rather than being blindsided by someone else."


From Belfast Telegraph