Alastair Kellock: A long journey from childhood dreams to this very special day

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STANDING on the terracing at Murrayfield as a six-year-old, the emotions swirling around a packed stadium, and dreaming that one day you might be fortunate enough to run out there as a player. This is going to be a very special day.

I was coming out of one of the stadium's 1925 suites this week and I stopped and looked across at the bridge that goes out the back to the Murrayfield Hotel, and the memories started to flood back. Me holding on to my dad's jacket so I didn't get lost in the crowds, with my kilt on, my mum and my late uncle, a great rugby inspiration, there as well. The laughter, the fun, the chat about the game all going on over my head. I was wee once.

And then, as I got older, coming in the minibus my dad was driving, full of under-15s from Allan Glens, excited boys desperate to see our heroes playing well at Murrayfield and winning. These were brilliant days. I might be a Glasgow boy, but I grew up going to Murrayfield and I still have the programmes from the 1980s that were split with a Scottish top half and Welsh bottom half.

The stadium has undergone a lot of changes over the years and it's been like a second home at times, having started my pro career with Edinburgh and now played a few times with Scotland, but that unique atmosphere it has hasn't changed a bit. For me, that is special and that is why I have been waiting for this particular day for a long time; the day when I lead Scotland out at Murrayfield for the first time.

I don't think I ever played on the main pitch before I played for Scotland, coming off the bench against Australia for my first cap in 2004, because Edinburgh played at Meadowbank then. In 2005, I was on the bench, and then I made my first start against France in the 2006 RBS Six Nations Championship. That was incredible.

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I had enjoyed it all before, the emotion, the build-up, the anthems, but it's different when you're on the bench. I actually encourage the young lads, particularly, that are on the bench or are 23rd or 24th men, to use that opportunity to soak it all in, feel the energy and emotion, because you can't let the experience pass you by.

I say to all the guys not to let the experience pass by, but to use all the emotion as motivation for your performance. I used to try to separate it, the atmosphere from the focus on the game, but I don't any more; I see it all as being one in the same.

You are pretty focused all week. You have some down-time, but mainly the minds this week have been thinking about eradicating mistakes from the first game that cost us the chance of victory in France and focusing on how we play to our best against the Welsh.But it will really start to build when we get on the bus later today and, for me, it's from the point when we get to Murrayfield and the bus slows to walking pace, the piper comes out in front and pipes us round to the dressing rooms.

Suddenly, there are hundreds, maybe thousands of supporters, who are there early to see us arrive, and it is difficult to put into words how incredible that feels as a player. John Barclay has spoken of how inspiring that is too, coming an hour and a half before the game.

It is important to control the emotion because you can burn off energy by getting too excited too early, but I have found that you can also use it.

I will follow my usual pattern of heading straight out onto the park when we arrive, walking across to the far side where I will receive the kick-off and checking the ground and the weather conditions. I don't have any superstitions as such, but I always do that.

It is going to be more special this time, as captain at Murrayfield, but I am looking forward to it all, from the build-up today - I like having the day to prepare for a later kick-off - to leading the walk-through with HRH Princess Anne, to leading the boys out and the anthems, and then taking on the Welsh with everything we've got.

My mum Jane and dad Stuart, and my wife Ashley will be there. Kate, my two-year-old daughter, is being babysat by my mate who hasn't done it before, so that might be interesting. But my mind will not be on that today.

We know the Welsh boys pretty well from a lot of Magners League and Heineken Cup battles, and we have a lot of respect for them. There are a lot of quality players in their squad and they played well at times against England last week, and I know they will be coming here full of passion and pride to get themselves back on the winning path.

Last year's game will also be in Scottish minds, how we played so well for 65 minutes and let it go badly wrong for the last 15. It has been great to see Chris Paterson and Rory Lamont come back from the injuries they suffered that day in Cardiff, but I will be thinking about Thom Evans today.

We lost a great international rugby player from our squad last year and it is heartening to hear how he is getting on with his life and doing great.

We may be forced into a switch today if Richie Gray doesn't recover from the illness he picked up on Thursday. Everyone's been wishing him a good night's sleep and I hope the big man is up and bouncing this morning, but the good thing is that if he doesn't make it - and there will be no chances taken - we have quality and experience in Nathan Hines and Scott MacLeod to come in, with Richie Vernon to come in at No 8 having already shown what he can do at this level. So there are no worries there.

This is it. You grow up hoping to play for Scotland, but probably never envisage captaining Scotland.Now I have the chance to lead Scotland out at Murrayfield and I am quite relaxed, but determined to enjoy this day and help to make it a memorable one for Scots of all ages.

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