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Dublin: 10°C Wednesday 21 October 2020

They couldn't... could they?! The Scottish perspective on the Six Nations

Scottish rugby blogger Rory Baldwin gives us the lowdown on our Celtic cousins ahead of the Six Nations kick-off.

Britain Rugby WCup Scotland: "Hopefully we can carry on Six Nations form." Source: Kirsty Wigglesworth

1. How are Scotland shaping up this year?

Possibly better than we had hoped after last year’s Six Nations. Hopefully we can use the autumn’s World Cup as a form guide rather than the whitewash of 2015.

2. What will be considered a success for Vern Cotter over the next two months?

We came close in most of our matches last year (except for Ireland) so going the next step and closing out those tighter games against the bigger teams in our favour has to be the aim. And properly beating Italy again would be nice to see.

Hopeful chit-chat about Grand Slams aside, two/three wins is an honest target.

3. Who or what is your biggest concern in the Scottish team?

Fitness in the midfield. If we had the full group of Scott, Dunbar, Bennett and Taylor to pick from I’d feel a lot more confident about our attacking threat and combinations to suit particular games, as well as unleashing the likes of Hogg and Seymour.

It’s looking like Scott and Taylor for the opener and there are late rumours of Bennett being fit [Ed's note: Scott and Bennett named since Rory provided his answers] but will he be sharp enough to face England?

Britain Rugby WCup Scotland Japan Mark Bennett starts at outside centre against England. Source: Clint Hughes

4. Who will be your key player this season?

Jonny Gray is becoming Mr Consistency but for us in the pack but it is probably WP Nel at tighthead. If he continues to dominate opposition looseheads through solid technique, the kickable points for Greig Laidlaw will keep coming. Scotland will probably always give away silly tries but if we stay in touch on the scoreboard we do have a chance against anyone.

5. Which player, from any country, will be the surprise star of the tournament?

I wouldn’t be surprised if Stuart McCloskey breaks through for Ireland, assuming Schmidt puts him in the team. I’ve been very impressed by his play for Ulster.

6. How do you fancy your chances in the game against Ireland?

It depends how we are going by that final weekend. If we’re ducking a wooden spoon again and Ireland are title chasing as last year when the teams met, then I wouldn’t expect Dublin to be a happy hunting ground.

But if we have some wins under our belts, I don’t think it holds as much of a hoodoo as say Twickenham or the Principality seem to. Grand Slam decider?

7. And finally, who will win the Six Nations?

Everyone has great talent in their ranks but no complete team stood out in the World Cup with any massive confidence and there are a lot of new factors such as coaches or injuries.

My heart says this will be our year, but it says that every year and has proved a poor judge of rugby fortunes!

Wales look settled and confident and their teams are going okay in the Pro12 so it’s hard to look past them. If they have a wobble against Ireland or Scotland though, it could suddenly be a very even tournament.

– Read more from Rory Baldwin on the Scottish Rugby Blog, or follow them on Twitter @ScotRugbyBlog

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