Greig Laidlaw: Scotland will target Conor Murray in Edinburgh

Says opposite number is ‘not going to come to Murrayfield and get an armchair ride’

Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw has said his side will target Conor Murray at Murrayfield on Saturday. Photograph: Getty/ Kieran Galvin

Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw has said his side will target Conor Murray at Murrayfield on Saturday. Photograph: Getty/ Kieran Galvin

 

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 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 14th.

The Warriors coaching staff and playing squad have been adamant their tactics were robust but firmly within the laws of the game.

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 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 Johnny Sexton has been ruled out of the Edinburgh showdown.

The British and Irish Lions linchpin has been ruled out with a calf injury, meaning Ulster’s Paddy Jackson will be tasked with pulling the strings for Joe Schmidt’s team.

But Laidlaw says Scotland should remain cautious, even with Sexton out of the picture.

“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 coming in from Munster (Rory Scannell).

“Their strength in depth is one of their keys to Ireland’s recent success.

“Sexton is a quality player of course but we can’t focus on one player. We just need to fixate on ourselves and get that part right first and foremost.

“It won’t affect us. We have done some in-depth analysis and we have a game plan we believe can give us the best possible chance of winning.

“Clearly 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.

But Laidlaw knows Scotland will have to overturn more than a decade of slow starts if they are to kick off their campaign with a win for the first time since 2006.

He said: “The Glasgow boys, off the back of an incredible victory against Leicester, are bringing some real confidence and excitement. It’s the same with the Edinburgh boys after making it into the quarters of the Challenge Cup.

“There is definitely more about the squad this time. We feel as a playing group we’re further down the track.

“But the proof is in the results and the performances. We’re not looking any further than the first game. In a competition that only lasts five games, it’s imperative you get off to a good start.

“Traditionally Scotland haven’t, so we’ve always been battling uphill from the off.

“This time though, we’ve got guys bang on form. Whether we’re looking at someone like Finn Russell, Johnny Gray or Stuart Hogg, we have players playing good rugby week in, week out.

“It’s about turning up to Murrayfield and playing to the highest standard. If we do that, we’ll win games of rugby.”

Meanwhile, Edinburgh have said Scotland prop WP Nel has undergone surgery on the neck injury that has ruled him out of the Six Nations. The capital outfit have yet to put a date on his eventual return to action.

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