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Scots eager to scotch upset talk as Dunbar seeks edge

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Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw and head coach Vern Cotter pose next to the Six Nations trophy during the RBS 6 Nations Media Launch at The Hurlingham Club, London. Photo: PA

Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw and head coach Vern Cotter pose next to the Six Nations trophy during the RBS 6 Nations Media Launch at The Hurlingham Club, London. Photo: PA

PA

Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw and head coach Vern Cotter pose next to the Six Nations trophy during the RBS 6 Nations Media Launch at The Hurlingham Club, London. Photo: PA

Scotland's perennial status as anarchic dark horses in the Six Nations has rarely raised a gallop this century, and as they intensify their build-up for this weekend's opener, they continue to heavily lay their chances of an upset.

Already seven points an outsider, an always suspecting public continues to agree.

The early noises from within their stables emit a wearily whinnying disinclination to talk up their chances.

"I think this team will ultimately be at its best in a couple more years' time," demurs their Kiwi assistant coach Jason O'Halloran.

"We'll have more guys round about that 50-caps mark and will continue to grow that leadership."

Despite Glasgow's advance to the Champions Cup quarter-final, housing the majority of Vern Cotter's squad, and declarations from a line-up of erstwhile legends that Scotland should be aiming big, those within the camp beg to differ.

"Those are flattering comments from some people but it doesn't give us any points when we start against Ireland," adds attack coach O'Halloran.

"What it does is give us in terms of combinations is real confidence, which is crucial for the trust element you need in these big games.

"But it won't give us a five-point start on Ireland, so it's of no real tangible benefit unless we perform really well."

Meanwhile, centre Alex Dunbar, who resisted tentative offers from elsewhere to commit to Glasgow Warriors yesterday by extending his contract, also slights on the current reality.

His side have already lost three times to Munster this term, and Scotland were roundly shellacked in Edinburgh two seasons ago when Ireland romped to the title on Super Saturday.

Hopes may be high outside the camp but they are moderate within it.

"We keep building on it," said Dunbar. "There are a lot of Glasgow boys in here, Edinburgh did well in the Challenge Cup. There is a good buzz here. Everybody is confident. We just need to knuckle down and get stuck in.

"We expect a very physical game. We have played Munster a few times already. We know they will have a physical edge. We have to be switched on and start the game well.

"The physical edge was the big lesson from those Munster games. They were a couple of gruelling games we played against them. We are going to have to go even higher than that. They have a lot of great players who are playing well. We have to impose ourselves on them."

Irish Independent