‘Frustrated’ Blair Kinghorn remains switched on for France challenge

It’s not often a Scot scores a hat-trick of tries in the Six Nations Championship. It is even rarer for a Scot to score a hat-trick and find himself passing round the jelly babies on the substitutes’ bench the following week, but that was Blair Kinghorn’s fate.

Blair Kinghorn takes part in a Scotland training session at Clydebank Community Hub. Picture: SNS Group
Blair Kinghorn takes part in a Scotland training session at Clydebank Community Hub. Picture: SNS Group

The leggy full-back/winger scored a hat-trick against Italy and was dropped for Sean Maitland for the Ireland match.

It looked an odd decision at the time and it looked even odder after the match when the Kiwi winger, rusty perhaps from a spell on the sidelines, looked horribly out of sorts, even if you exempt him from any blame for Conor Murray’s try. At least two of his passes went to thin air, the second rolling harmlessly into touch.

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“It was frustrating, as you can imagine, but you just have to trust the team selection and that is the only thing I can do... and keep working hard for myself,” said Kinghorn, the model of diplomacy.

“I was a bit frustrated but Sean (Maitland) coming back, he is a massively experienced guy and he has been playing unreal for Scotland over the last couple of games. His track record for Scotland is, like, six tries in eight games, or something like that, (the figures are six tries in ten matches) so he is playing really well.

“You have to fight for your position, the only thing I can do is to keep working week to week and, if I do get time on the park, its just... keep playing well.

“You can’t really beat yourself up, that’s just the way it is sometimes. If you sit in a slump for too long it’s not really going to help your development in any way. If I’d been in a slump sitting on the bench thinking I should have been on the park then when Hoggy went down after 15 minutes I wouldn’t have been in the zone. You’ve just got to be switched on the whole time. If you just do your job then when it comes to it you’ll be fine.”

With Hogg injured for the time being, and probably for the duration after being released back to Glasgow, the big fella should get another start next Saturday. The Hawick man is a loss but the emergence of Kinghorn as a genuine attacking threat makes it manageable.

He lacks Hogg’s footwork but Kinghorn is no slouch. The coach revealed that the full-back/winger clocked the fastest times in the Scotland squad.

Their shared speed is not the only thing he has in common with Hogg; the pair have similar attacking attitudes as well, as Kinghorn acknowledged.

“We’re quite similar players, it’s just that our body types are different. I am a lot taller,” he said.

We all expect a rebound of some sort from France next weekend but whether it lasts eight minutes or 80 is the big question. France proved for 40 minutes against Wales what they could achieve with attacking intent but they also showed against England that their confidence, spirit and belief are all on sabbatical.

“It will be a tough game, away to France,” Kinghorn insists, “but I think our club form has shown we can win away from home (with a) couple of big wins in France. I think we are all going there with a really positive mentality.

Can Scotland end that 20-year wait for a win in Paris?

“We believe we can win every game that we go into if we play the right rugby,” replies the full-back. “France is always seen as quite a hard game but the boys have got a lot more confidence now, we can go to tough places with our club side and come away with a win.”