Greg Laidlaw confident Scotland can build new attacking identity
Ireland’s first opponents have been building since last year’s tournament and World Cup
Greig Laidlaw and Rory Best pose for photographers next to the Six Nations Trophy during the 2017 RBS Six Nations rugby tournament launch at The Hurlingham Club in London. Photo: EPA
Greig Laidlaw insists the “great weapon” of Scotland’s attacking game can generate the nation’s best Test side in a generation.
Scotland finished fourth in last term’s Six Nations after claiming two wins, and so nearly toppled Australia in the autumn, eventually losing out 23-22.
Laidlaw expects the emergence of backline talents like centre Huw Jones can strike doubts into opponents’ minds in upcoming northern hemisphere battle.
“This is definitely the best Scotland squad I’ve been a part of; that’s quite an easy question actually for me to answer,” said Laidlaw.
“We’re starting to get more strength in depth through the squad.
“But we’re not getting ahead of ourselves because we’ve not won any games in the tournament yet.
“I think it suits us because of the make-up of our players.
“We’re certainly scoring a lot of tries in November, we can hurt teams on that front.
“If we can back that up with strong defensive performances we’d like to think we’d be hard to beat.”
The addition of bonus points to this term’s Six Nations ought to add an extra level of attacking intent to the tournament, with Laidlaw hoping Scotland can seize on that move.
“That does build our identity,” said Laidlaw.
“The make-up of the players we have through the team, myself, somebody like Finn Russell, he’s a wonderful player, he spent some time in New Zealand, which I think you can see has really helped.
“Huw Jones came in on November and played extremely well, there’s Staurt Hogg at the back and Sean Maitland doing very well at Saracens too.
“Certainly I enjoy that style, and I think the Scottish public do too.
“You need to score tries to win games.
“If you go in and try to defend your way to victory then it just won’t work.
“To have that ability and to have teams be able to worry about your attack is a great weapon for us.
“So we feel it’s now time to start moving the whole thing forward again.”
Head coach Cotter will leave Scotland for Montpellier in the summer, to be replaced by Glasgow boss Gregor Townsend.
Townsend’s Glasgow have showcased fine, threatening rugby in qualifying for this term’s Champions Cup quarter-finals, underscoring Scotland’s front-foot threats.
But boss Cotter urged a note of caution despite the general optimism in Scotland’s progress.
“We’re very conscious only two weeks ago Munster went to Glasgow and beat them, so there’s confidence but a dose of realism as well,” said Cotter.
“This is going to be tough, just because there have been a few good performances it doesn’t mean the opposition are going to give you games.
“Greig and his boys are looking at and have been trying to develop for a couple of years now.”