Thursday 14 December 2017

Business as usual insists Cotter as he prepares for final bow

Cotter: On his way. Photo: David Davies/PA Wire
Cotter: On his way. Photo: David Davies/PA Wire

Duncan Bech

Vern Cotter insists it will be business as usual as he prepares for his final match in charge of Scotland – and revealed he has even banned his players from discussing his Murrayfield farewell.

The Kiwi, who is to be replaced by Glasgow boss Gregor Townsend this summer, will bow out after 36 Tests after tomorrow’s visit of Italy.

The Scots can still claim the Six Nations runners-up slot for the first time since the Azzurri entered the Championship back in 2000 if results go their way.

And for that reason Cotter is determined to ensure his men are not washed away by a wave of sentiment.

The 55-year-old – who has been boosted by the news key men Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour and Ryan Wilson have all recovered from head knocks suffered during last weekend’s humiliating drubbing from England – said of the build-up to his last hurrah: “It was very much business-like.

“We spoke as coaches, we got the OK from the doc, and it was just business as usual. We know what we have to do, and we know what we want to do, and that’s win the game. It’s about trying to get the preparation right.”

Cotter’s players have dodged questions about the significance of the head coach’s impending departure as if they were a pedestrian leaping out of the way of a speeding car.

The former Clermont Auvergne coach is never comfortable being the centre of attention and his team were under strict instructions to divert all questions away from the topic.

In fact, he admits he banished all talk of his exit – even in private – until after the weekend’s action is completed.

“No, they’re not allowed to,” he replied when asked what he thought the players had been saying among themselves.

“They’ve got plenty of other things to think about. First and foremost is playing for themselves and the people that support them. We would like to see them put in a great performance they can be proud of.”

Townsend will have to wait to measure up the head coach’s office at Murrayfield, though.

The incumbent – who admits he would have liked to have stayed on to finish the project he started – is now due to take over at Montpellier once his Scotland contract expires in the summer.

Until then, he will focus his attention on helping the next breed of Scottish coaches develop their skills.

“I’ll try and make myself useful until they tell me to b***** off,” he smiled.

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