Six Nations: Scotland breakdown

Finn Russell. Picture: Getty Images

Finn Russell. Picture: Getty Images

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How will Scotland fare without the influential WP Nel?

Coach: Vern Cotter

Captain: Greig Laidlaw

Old dog: Ross Ford has 103 Test caps already and knows his way to the changing room.

Young gun: Zander Fagerson is still only 21 years old, a decade off his peak, perhaps more.

Six Nations record: 6th, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 4th.

Missing the action: Everyone talks about WP Nel but Ally Dickinson is just as big a loss as the South African, possibly more so. He should, touch wood, be available for the middle weekend match against Wales.

Reasons to be cheerful: If the Scotland pack gets on to the front foot the back line has more threats than a Mafia wise guy and stand-off Finn Russell is oozing confidence, as well he should be.

Reasons to be fearful: The set piece, stupid, because Scotland have to make do without both their first-choice props, which has implications across the field. Nor is there much backing up Russell at stand-off, although Stuart Hogg was mooted as a potential candidate a few weeks back.

Odds: 25/1 (out from 16/1 follwing Nel’s injury)

Prediction: 3rd

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