Vern Cotter’s players go into the RBS 6 Nations match in London as rank outsiders, with the trip south seen by many a step closer to an inevitable wooden spoon following three defeats in their opening three matches in this year’s competition.
The players do channel the history; the number of years we haven’t won – it’s a powerful tool.Words can’t describe what it would be like for us to win.
Matt Scott on Scotland’s poor record at Twickenham
The last time the Dark Blues won at HQ was 32 years ago – the year before winning a Five Nations Grand Slam – and it would be an historic victory should Scotland cause the upset of the tournament.
And the 24-year-old concedes that the lure of history is a great motivating factor as Scotland look to build on the few positives they can take from their championship so far.
“It does have an effect,” he said.
“For me personally it’s a massive opportunity to make history.
“The history is hard to ignore. People talk about that team that won in 1983, and I use it as a great motivation.
“Every Scotland-England game has a massive build-up and it’s a massive emotional experience.
“It’s hard to describe, but it’s such a great occasion to play in.
“The players do channel the history; the number of years we haven’t won – it’s a powerful tool.
“Words can’t describe what it would be like for us to win.
“We’ve not won down there in my lifetime so it would be unbelievable.”
Scott, who has recently returned from a shoulder problem, is the unfortunate beneficiary of the cruelest of luck that befell Alex Dunbar earlier in the week.
The Glasgow Warriors centre was due to continue his excellent midfield partnership with club colleague Mark Bennett, but an innocuous turn in training, just hours before Scotland were due to depart for London, saw Dunbar injure his knee.
Cotter had hoped that a hastily arranged scan at a nearby hospital would determine that the injury wasn’t serious as he drafted Scott into the starting XV to win his 25th cap.
But the Scotland coach’s worst fears were realised when the verdict came back that Dunbar had ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and would need six to nine months of rest and recuperation.
I really hope he can make his recovery in time for the World Cup, because he’s a player who has been in excellent form and a player we need playing for us. I’m just going to try to replicate the performances he’s been putting in.
Matt Scott on replacing injured Alex Dunbar
It is an injury that will rule the 24-year-old out of the Rugby World Cup in September, but gives Scott a clear run at nailing down the 12 jersey before Scotland run out against Japan in their World Cup opener in Gloucester on 23 September.
Another beneficiary could be Dunbar’s Warriors colleague Peter Horne, who knows all too well how frustrating it can be to spend nine months on the sidelines after suffering the same injury while on Scotland duty against South Africa in June 2013.
Horne bounced back and has been an important player for the Warriors, since making his come back off the bench against Benetton Treviso in April 2014, and true to his word he has been “better than ever” whether deployed at inside centre or stand-off.
And Scott, who has partnered Dunbar in the Scottish midfield over the last 12 months, admits he was gutted when he heard the news.
“I’m absolutely devastated for him, because it was such an innocuous injury in training and for it to be so serious; I’m really gutted for him,” Scott said.
“I really hope he can make his recovery in time for the World Cup, because he’s a player who has been in excellent form and a player we need playing for us.
“I’m just going to try to replicate the performances he’s been putting in.”
While Scott is aiming to continue where Dunbar left off, the Dark Blues will need a perfect performance from all 23 players, individually and collectively, if they are to return to BT Murrayfield with a victory.
We’ve had that before where we’ve been written off and then come back and played really well. It’s great motivation to see everyone writing you off; it gives you that extra spark.
Matt Scott on Scotland being underdogs against England
A bright November series saw Cotter lead Scotland to wins against Argentina and Tonga, as well as pushing world champions New Zealand close.
Close defeats have become a regular theme in this year’s Six Nations with an 18-11 defeat to France in Paris being followed up with a 26-23 defeat to Wales and then 22-19 defeat to Italy in Edinburgh.
And Scott admits that the squad feels a responsibility to shake off a generalisation that Scotland are gallant losers.
“Our responsibility as players is to shake off that tag of gallant losers – that we play well but we lose – we need to get over that winning line,” he said.
“We’re used to being the underdog, especially against England, and quite rightly so, because the last few years England have beaten us, so that’s only fair.
“We’ve had that before where we’ve been written off and then come back and played really well.
“It’s great motivation to see everyone writing you off; it gives you that extra spark.
“It’s going to be a massive challenge at Twickenham.
“It’s a great stadium, I love playing there, and it will be a great occasion.”
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BIOGRAPHY: Anthony Martial