Six Nations team by team guide: Scotland

Opening fixture against Ireland should set tone for the Scots’ tournament

Prospects

The players must push to the periphery the fact that their coach is leaving at the end of the season and concentrate on the matters in hand. Last season, they lost narrowly at home to England (15-9) and away to Wales (27-23), while beating France and Italy. It should also be remembered that Ireland scored three tries in a 10-point win while the Scots were a man down. Scotland have more depth now than in previous seasons.

Coach

Vern Cotter

will take up a new position with Montpellier in the summer, but will do so having added value during his time with the Scots. A decent

Six Nations

last season followed on from an excellent World Cup and a great deal more consistency in terms of performance level. He challenged the players to improve their skill sets and they responded positively, while offering more rounded patterns.

Captain

Greig Laidlaw is a sharp, tactically astute presence at the breakdown and also a very capable place-kicker from about 45 metres in. He provides his team with intelligent direction and has a good feel for space on the fringes and in behind opposing teams.

One to watch

Huw Jones was born in Edinburgh, educated at Millfield in Somerset and currently plays for the Stormers in South Africa. He was first capped on Scotland's summer tour to Japan, and in his first start the outside centre scored a brace of tries against Australia in November. He could be an outside bet for the Lions tour.

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25/1 to win, 100/1 for Grand Slam

Last year

Fourth

Prediction

Fifth. They could do a great deal better than that, particularly if they can beat Ireland in the opening fixture, because in some respects that may set the tone for the tournament. The next three games are all tough, with two away from home, so an opening-day defeat would leave them vulnerable. A win, however, and they have the momentum to go forward.

Squad

Forwards: A Allan (Glasgow), J Barclay (Scarlets), S Berghan (Edinburgh), F Brown (Glasgow), A Dell (Edinburgh), C Du Preez (Edinburgh), Z Fagerson (Glasgow), R Ford (Edinburgh), G Gilchrist (Edinburgh), J Gray (Glasgow), R Gray (Toulouse), J Hardie (Edinburgh), R Harley (Glasgow), S McInally (Edinburgh), G Reid (Glasgow), J Strauss (Glasgow), T Swinson (Glasgow), B Toolis (Edinburgh), H Watson (Edinburgh), J Welsh (Newcastle), R Wilson (Glasgow).

Backs: M Bennett (Glasgow), A Dunbar (Glasgow), S Hogg (Glasgow), D Hoyland (Edinburgh), H Jones (Stormers), G Laidlaw (Gloucester), S Maitland (Saracens), A Price (Glasgow), H Pyrgos (Glasgow), F Russell (Glasgow), M Scott (Gloucester), T Seymour (Glasgow), D Taylor (Saracens), T Visser (Harlequins), D Weir (Edinburgh).