Scots set to make presence felt in Six Nations

Scotland in action against France in last season's Six Nations clash at Murrayfield.
Scotland in action against France in last season's Six Nations clash at Murrayfield.

While Scotland will not be the bookies favourites for the forthcoming Six Nations tournament, which gets underway on February 6, they will be fancied to give a good account of themselves, particularly as the Scots have three games at home.

Playing at BT Murrayfield against Wales, Italy and Ireland will give supporters some kind of hope, especially after three sound performances in the autumn tests, pushing world champions New Zealand all the way in a credible 24-16 defeat.

Granted it was an All Blacks team made up in the main of second choice players, but very encouraging for new coach Vern Cotter.

The New Zealander may in fact be the key to any success the Scots might enjoy in the tournament, as he has already instilled a confidence in the squad, sadly lacking in previous outings.

His choice of players is interesting, not least for notable omissions, including back rower John Beattie arguably one of the country’s best ball carriers.

Perhaps not surprisingly Cotter has opted for a more physical approach, for why else would he have Rob Harley and Alasdair Strokosch in his line up.

The tried and tested Greig Laidlaw will of course be fundamental to Cotter’s game plan, having come through a sticky spell last season to stand ready to serve his country from the key position of scrum half.

The former Jed--Forest player can also be relied upon to make his place kicking count.

But while his picks are generally sound, his selection of Sean Lamont is surely a luxury he cannot afford.

The much-capped Lamont has become a fixture for every coach in the top Scottish post, which is hard to fathom given the centre cum winger’s inability to pass a ball, or indeed make a tackle.

Whether Lamont makes the starting line up for the French opener on February 7 in Paris remains to be seen.

The French test is of course a huge one, not having won there since 1999, alongside this grisly fact is the even more chilling one of not having won a Six Nations opener since 2006, but this pales beside the reminder that Scotland have not won at Twickenham since 1983.

Notwithstanding all these negative vibes, Scotland could well win all its home games, starting with Wales on Sunday, February 15.

As for who is going to win the tournament, it is hard to go past Ireland to once again defy the odds, though England will be keen to get its game in order for the World Cup later in the year, particularly as they are the hosts of the eighth playing of the event.