Monday 23 October 2017

Fraser Brown: No extra pressure after ousting Ross Ford from Scotland line-up

Scotland's Fraser Brown, pictured, is not feeling any extra pressure having taken Ross Ford's starting slot
Scotland's Fraser Brown, pictured, is not feeling any extra pressure having taken Ross Ford's starting slot

Fraser Brown does not believe there will be any extra pressure on his shoulders after ousting centurion Ross Ford from the Scotland line-up.

The Glasgow hooker has been rewarded for his sparkling club form this campaign with the starting slot for Saturday's opening RBS 6 Nations clash with Ireland.

Head coach Vern Cotter will hope Brown's ability to smash through defences, combined with his relentless work-rate in defence, will give his men a shot when they take on Joe Schmidt's green juggernaut at Murrayfield.

But the 27-year-old's inclusion may spell the beginning of the end for 103-cap Ford's run as a Dark Blues mainstay, with the Edinburgh front-rower dropping to the bench.

Brown, though, insists he does not feel burdened by having taken the place of a man who has been a central figure for the Scots for over a decade.

Asked if he felt an added weight of expectation after replacing Ford in the starting XV, he said: "No, I don't think so. There's no point focusing on anyone else whether it's in your position or the opposition. You just go out and look to play your own game.

"Ross and I have been in squads together for a long time. It's not this battle between me and him - we're good mates.

"Everyone helps each other out in training. It's not a you-versus-them situation. There is constant dialogue because we're trying to make the team better as a whole, and the only way we can do that is by helping each other."

Cotter will hope Brown can replicate the impact he has had for Glasgow with the national team.

He was part of the Warriors side which booked their place in the last eight of the Champions Cup for the very first time last month.

Qualification was sealed with an astonishing 43-0 drubbing of Leicester at Welford Road, with Brown posting a vital contribution that included a monster 14 carries.

"It's a big deal to get the nod to start, especially for the first game," he admitted. "There's a lot of responsibility on all 15, and all 23, of us. It means a great deal.

"Right across the squad, not just at hooker, we've got really healthy competition. You need that competition to drive forward.

"It's obviously pleasing for me to start this week, and it's nice to start above other guys in my position, but it's really important that across every position we've got two or three or four guys that can all step up and push each other week after week."

The challenge now will be to translate the displays he has managed for Glasgow in the Guinness PRO12 and in Europe to the international stage.

But for a man who speaks with the same confidence as he shows whilst barging past opponents, he does not see it being a major issue.

He said: "It's not that difficult, to be honest. The national coaches watch all our domestic games, and if guys are playing well at the club it's easier to come into camp and just carry on that form.

"When we met up last Sunday, Glasgow had just come off the back of that win against Leicester, Edinburgh had just qualified for the quarters of the Challenge Cup and the boys playing for Saracens and in France had come off the back of good wins and progression as well.

"It actually makes it easier coming into camp when you've got a lot of guys who are playing well and on form. It just makes it a nicer environment.

"Gregor Townsend and the coaches at Glasgow instil a confidence in you to go out and play. That doesn't mean throwing the ball out the back door and doing silly offloads, it means running hard and doing the hard yards.

"The same philosophy stands true here. Everyone feels they can go at first receiver if they have to. It's having that confidence in your own ability so you can do something to influence the game.

"Taking on Ireland will be a challenge, but it's the same challenge we see every week whether for club or country."

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