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Vern Cotter warns Scotland not to build England match up

Vern Cotter has told his Scotland players to forget all about rewriting the history books if they want to complete their fairytale RBS 6 Nations bid.

The Dark Blues started the campaign as 14/1 long shots but have fired themselves into the Championship reckoning with victories over Ireland and Wales.

Now they head to Twickenham to face tournament favourites England on Saturday hoping to keep themselves on track for what would be the most unlikely of title triumphs.

Victory in south-west London would hand the Scots their first away win over the Auld Enemy since 1983 as well as a first Triple Crown success in 27 years, all the while keeping hopes of a first ever Six Nations crown alive.

But the stakes remain just as high for Eddie Jones' record-chasing Red Rose outfit, who will equal the All Blacks' unsurpassed 18-Test winning streak set in 2016 if they prevail this weekend.

Cotter is well aware of the talking points surrounding a match which can rightfully be billed as the Scots' biggest since their 1999 Five Nations triumph.

However, he wants his men thinking only of the 80-minute battle awaiting them.

Asked about England's historic quest, the Kiwi said: "It hasn't been discussed a lot within the team.

"And neither has the Triple Crown or the Calcutta Cup, nothing has been discussed. It's about the team and trying to get the content right.

"It's about organisation and structure so we can perform at our best.

"The team which kicks off on Saturday has 80 minutes of rugby to focus on - and this team is doing nothing else.

"It's about the game and that's how our preparation has taken place.

"It's about working as a team and making sure we back each other up.

"It's about keeping our heads up and seeing what's coming and what may happen next. It's about staying in the game, being as good as possible both physically and mentally and making good decisions."

The head coach also brushed off suggestions the match would have extra significance as he effectively enters the final eight days of his Murrayfield reign.

Cotter deserves credit for turning around a team that was whitewashed only two years ago and transforming them into genuine contenders.

However, his time is coming to an end after the Scottish Rugby Union took the unilateral decision to dispense with the former Clermont Auvergne coach's services after the Championship and replace him with Glasgow boss Gregor Townsend.

"It hasn't been about me and I don't think about it," he stressed. "I want the players to play to their potential and enjoy the opportunity which comes with this game. As a coaching group we are really looking forward to the contest."

For all that England have been all-conquering since Jones took over in the wake of their shambolic World Cup display 18 months ago, they have not always sparkled.

They looked startled by Italy's unconventional approach around the ruck last time out but again found a way to win.

Scotland have found joy themselves by thinking out of the box during this tournament - most notably when centre Alex Dunbar sneaked into a line-out before scoring against the Irish.

But Cotter - who has made just one change to the team which saw off Wales, with flanker Hamish Watson replacing the injured John Hardie - expects England to be on their guard.

He said: "England haven't lost for a long while and we are playing them at home.

"They are a good team and are probably a bit upset at the way the game unfolded against Italy at Twickenham. They are a team which runs scenarios and prepares for games thoroughly.

"I thought with Italy's ruck tactics they adapted well but they'll be annoyed about that and they won't want to be caught out again. Eddie's very competitive, they're a very competitive team and they're obviously playing for something that's important to them. There are a number of reasons why we know this will be a hard game.

"We know if we can find something that they haven't prepared for then that gives us an advantage for a certain amount of time, but not for very long."


From Belfast Telegraph