Greig Laidlaw urges Scottish players to forget World Cup pain

Preview: Scotland v Australia, BT Murrayfield Stadium, 2.30pm – BBC 1

Greig Laidlaw, captain of Scotland takes part in the Captain’s Run at Murrayfield Stadium. Photograph:  Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Greig Laidlaw, captain of Scotland takes part in the Captain’s Run at Murrayfield Stadium. Photograph: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

 

Scotland will need no extra motivation for their meeting with Australia at Murrayfield on Saturday afternoon but the circumstances of that World Cup quarter-final defeat to the Wallabies last autumn may help them believe they can emulate Ireland’s extraordinary defeat of the All Blacks last weekend.

Scotland’s captain Greig Laidlaw has said he will take the pain of that controversial 35-34 loss “to the grave”. The referee Craig Joubert showed a turn of speed last year of which the Scotland wings Tim Visser and Sean Maitland would have been proud when he left the Twickenham pitch after giving a contentious late penalty that enabled Bernard Foley to kick the winning points.

Vern Cotter’s team played out of their skins and Scotland have nursed a justified grievance ever since but the Gloucester scrumhalf Laidlaw is aware his side has to block out the emotion of that day if they are to prevent the Wallabies completing a second leg of their European grand slam after their humbling of Wales last Saturday.

Scotland’s coach Cotter goes a step further, believing his side should be aware of the “trap” of continuing to scratch this particular itch. “It’s another game, it’s a year on,” the New Zealander said. “One of the traps you can fall into is work on the principle of revenge.”

Key players

Cotter knows his team, without key players WP Nel, Tommy Seymour and Duncan Taylor, will need no distractions if they are to avoid Wales’s fate. But his opposite number Michael Cheika, who recalls Will Genia at scrum-half and names the Waratahs prop Tom Robertson on the bench in place of James Slipper, has laughed off suggestions it will be one-way traffic. “Who are we?” he asked rhetorically. “We’re nobody. Both teams are equal and world rankings don’t matter. Scotland have a big, powerful pack and the only thing that matters is what happens on match day.”

Scotland give first Test starts to two Edinburgh forwards, the loose-head prop Allan Dell and the flanker Hamish Watson. Murrayfield will also get a first glimpse of Huw Jones, a 22-year-old centre who plays for the Stormers and is the most intriguing of the new faces on Cotter’s team.

Jones, who was born in Edinburgh, headed to South Africa after leaving Millfield to work in a Cape Town school in his gap year. After playing for Western Province his Super Rugby experience with the Stormers has been mainly confined to bench duties. At Millfield, Jones played alongside Mako Vunipola and Jonathan Joseph but was never absorbed into the England academy system.

England may have missed a trick by ignoring Jones’ claims. He is not the biggest centre in the world but has impressed Cotter with his speed and strength. This will be a testing first Scotland start for him, though. The powerful centre pairing Tevita Kuridrani and Reece Hodge helped shatter Wales’s defensive barricades last weekend and if Australia have as much possession as they did in Cardiff it may be another long afternoon for their supporters.

Alongside the 24-year-old Dell, another South-African-born player who hails from the Eastern Cape will be Ross Ford, who becomes the third Scottish player to reach the landmark of 100 caps. Ford, who made his debut against Australia 12 years ago, joins Chris Paterson and Sean Lamont as a tartan centurion. Ford’s experience will be vital with Zander Fagerson, on the tight-head, also making a first Test start.

“To play 100 Test matches is an incredible achievement,” Cotter said. It may also be barely credible if Scotland can avenge that World Cup defeat on Saturday. Victory for Cotter’s team would not quite rank with the stunning result in Chicago last Saturday but a Scotland win would be a major shock. Guardian Service

SCOTLAND: Stuart Hogg, Sean Maitland, Huw Jones, Alex Dunbar, Tim Visser, Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw (capt); Allan Dell, Ross Ford, Zander Fagerson, Richie Gray, Jonny Gray, John Barclay, Hamish Watson, Ryan Wilson. Replacements: Fraser Brown, Gordon Reid, Moray Low, Grant Gilchrist, John Hardie, Ali Price, Pete Horne, Rory Hughes. AUSTRALIA: Israel Folau, Dane Haylett-Petty, Tevita Kuridrani, Reece Hodge, Henry Speight, Bernard Foley, Will Genia; Scott Sio, Stephen Moore (capt), Sekope Kepu, Rory Arnold, Adam Coleman, David Pocock, Michael Hooper, Lopeti Timani. Replacements: Tolu Latu, Tom Robertson, Allan Alaalatoa, Rob Simmons, Will Skelton, Dean Mumm, Nick Phipps, Quade Cooper. Referee: John Lacey (IRFU) .

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