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Six Nations touchlines: Confident Hogg predicts 'something incredibly special' for Scotland

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Stuart Hogg takes part in a training session prior to the Six Nations at the Oriam in Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Stuart Hogg takes part in a training session prior to the Six Nations at the Oriam in Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Getty Images

Stuart Hogg takes part in a training session prior to the Six Nations at the Oriam in Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Two-time Six Nations Player of the Tournament Stuart Hogg believes Scotland are on track to win the tournament for the first time in the modern era.

The full-back has been one of the leading lights in the competition in recent years, but his side have fallen short each time despite some big one-off results.

Scotland kick off at home to Italy before welcoming Ireland to Murrayfield on Saturday week.

And Hogg is excited by what his team could achieve.

"I think we are on the right path to achieve something incredibly special," the Glasgow Warriors star said.

"We have been working really, really hard over the last few years to get to where we are and we truly believe we can win the Six Nations.

"But for us as players we are just looking at the first game against Italy on Saturday and making sure we get off to the best possible start. They are a fantastic rugby team who will come to BT Murrayfield and really make it difficult for us.

"Attack-wise we have got to make the most of every opportunity and defence-wise shut them down at the earliest possible stage.

"Look, everybody is excited. We know there is a lot of hard work to be done still but we are ready to rock and roll."

Gregor Townsend yesterday called uncapped Glasgow centre Stafford McDowall, his clubmate Rory Hughes and Edinburgh scrum-half Henry Pyrgos into his squad having lost Warriors trio Matt Smith, Alex Dunbar and Rob Harley to injury.

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Anthony Foley on his Irish debut against England in 1995 at Lansdowne Road. Photo: SPORTSFILE

Anthony Foley on his Irish debut against England in 1995 at Lansdowne Road. Photo: SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

"If you are not saying you are going to win the Six Nations, then what's the point of being here?

"We truly believe we can do it. We are excited about the challenges that are coming our way. We have huge opportunities with three games at Murrayfield. Every single game we are going into looking to win."

Friday night lights: Davies boosts Wales

Gareth Davies has been passed fit to play for Wales against France in the Six Nations opener on Friday night (8.0).

The star scrum-half had been expected to miss out due to the quad injury he suffered while playing for Scarlets against Racing 92 earlier this month.

Dan Biggar, Ross Moriarty, Adam Beard, Cory Hill, Liam Williams, Josh Adams, Tomas Francis and Elliot Dee are also available, but Rhys Patchell and Scott Williams are out.

Moriarty's availability is a boost, according to Wales forwards coach Robin McBryde.

"We have taken a few knocks in the back-row, but to have someone of Ross' standing is great," he said.

"He's dynamic, he is still developing as a young player. He is good to have. He never takes a step back, so to have someone of Ross' ability is massive."

France look set to pair Clermont duo Morgan Parra and Camille Lopez at half-back for the Stade de France clash.

Back in time - 1995: English set Slam course

The last time Ireland met England on the first day of the Championship was 1995, when Anthony Foley made his international debut.

Despite scoring a late try, the debutant found out all about the step up as England produced a back-row master-class to win comfortably en route to a Grand Slam.

Ireland - C O'Shea; S Geoghegan, B Mullin (capt), P Danaher, N Woods; P Burke, N Hogan; N Popplewell, K Wood, P Clohessy; M Galwey, N Francis; A Foley, D Corkery, P Johns.

England - M Catt; T Underwood, W Carling (capt), J Guscott, R Underwood; R Andrew, K Bracken; J Leonard, B Moore, V Ubogu; M Johnston, M Bayfield; T Rodber, B Clarke, D Richards.

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4 - Will Greenwood's total of tries against Ireland is the most of any in this fixture in the Six Nations era. Tommy Bowe, Brian O'Driscoll, Austin Healey, Ben Cohen and Shane Horgan have three each.

Irish Independent