Sam Underhill admits the “pressure is on” as England attempt to rescue their Guinness Six Nations title pursuit from oblivion at Murrayfield.
Underhill relishes an international rivalry that began in 1871 and spans 137 Tests as Eddie Jones’ men look to wrestle back control of the Calcutta Cup for the first time in two years.
England launched the Six Nations with a comprehensive 24-17 defeat by France and Underhill detects a desire to atone for a wounding performance endured three months after they were dismantled in the World Cup final by South Africa.
“For us the pressure is on, which is something you can ignore and try to play down or something you can embrace,” the Bath openside said.
“We’re incredibly hungry. In terms of last week especially, when you have a disappointing result you want nothing more than another game.
“The fact it happens to be a Calcutta Cup is probably even better for us because there’s more pressure and ultimately that’s something you need to perform at your best.
“The Calcutta Cup is a pretty big occasion. Every Test is a big occasion, but there’s a big rivalry here.
“From a personal point of view, I’ve got a Scottish grandmother, a Scottish brother in law and one of my other sister’s boyfriends is Scottish, so I just turn my phone off before the game!
“It’s good to have bit of an edge to a game. That edge will add to the sense of occasion.”
Underhill won the sixth of his 16 caps at Murrayfield two years ago and it was an eye-opening experience as England began a five-Test losing sequence that produced their worst Championship finish since the 1980s.
“I was on the bench, it was one of my first caps and my first experience here at Murrayfield,” the 23-year-old said.
“It was probably my first insight into the emotion of the occasion and I was naive to it before.
“We were getting booed off the bus and then the reaction of the Scotland players when they won, seeing the crowd and how much it means to everyone up here.
“It’s definitely something to acknowledge and it’s definitely there – you can’t ignore it – especially when it’s as loud as Murrayfield is. But that’s to be embraced as a player.
“It’s still quite an emotional sport. You need that emotional energy, especially in something like your defence.”
Storm Ciara is due to batter the UK this weekend with heavy rain and strong winds forecast to hit Edinburgh at kick-off, but defence coach John Mitchell views the weather event as part of the game.
“We’re ready for anything. That’s certainly in our preparation,” former All Blacks boss Mitchell said.
“I’m not sure who the weather will favour. Certainly both teams will have to adapt to it.”