Bullish Hogg says Scots are emboldened by Euro glory

Full-back Stuart Hogg revealed it was a buoyant Scotland squad who checked into Six Nations training camp yesterday off the back of a glory weekend for the nation's clubs in Europe.

Scotland full-back Stuart Hogg, left, and hooker Stuart McInally during training at the Orian Centre yesterday. Picture: SNS
Scotland full-back Stuart Hogg, left, and hooker Stuart McInally during training at the Orian Centre yesterday. Picture: SNS

Hogg played his part in 
Glasgow’s extraordinary 43-0 rout at Leicester Tigers on 
Saturday evening, which booked the Warriors a first-ever last-eight spot in the elite Champions Cup – a day after Edinburgh had marched into the Challenge Cup quarter-finals.

It means that all but four of the 36 players who joined Vern Cotter and his staff at the Oriam performance centre are still involved in European competition with their clubs.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

For the record, Huw Jones who plays his rugby in South Africa, Jon Welsh of Newcastle, John Barclay of Scarlets and Tim Visser of Harlequins are the odd men out.

Hogg said that club exploits were feeding into the national team and consigning the fear factor to the past.

“I’m not going to lie, there was times in years gone by when we were scared about what was going to happen,” said Hogg

“But now we’re confident about going down and getting the job done. We believe we have the playing staff, the structures and the coaching staff to get us victories.

“Everyone is excited about the challenges ahead. We are coming in with a good bit of confidence, the club sides are going well.It is good that the boys are coming in with smiles on their faces and excited about the challenges ahead.

“Here is hoping everybody can continue their form in a Scotland jersey.”

Cotter addressed the squad and congratulated the players on their European achievements, urging them to take the feelgood factor into the Six Nations, which opens against Ireland at BT Murrayfield a week on Saturday.

“He [Cotter] kept a bit of balance,” said Hogg. “Play with the confidence to try things within the gameplan, go out and express ourselves and have some fun.

“We will train hard, work hard and see where opportunities lie against Ireland and will try to exploit them when it comes to the game.”

Hogg was named player of the tournament last year but doesn’t feel that adds any extra pressure on his shoulders heading into the 2017 staging of the oldest international competition.

“That is all in the past, I am very much in control of what happens in the future,” said the 24-year-old.

“Here is hoping that I am selected and then, after that, do my job. Everybody has a role and responsibility within the squad and I have to do mine to the best of my ability.”

Hogg admitted that it had been a pleasant journey back from Leicester on Saturday night and that, after inflicting the “doughnut” of zero scoreline on the Midlands side, the Englishmen returned the compliment in the form of sweet treats.

“Ben Youngs and Tom Croft have their own doughnut and coffee business there at Welford Road,” explained Hogg. “I saw them after the game and they asked if I wanted a few – I won’t say no to a doughnut!

“It was good to get home straight after the game. There were a couple of quiet beers and a few songs but we were just chuffed to come home with a great victory.

“In terms of Glasgow, it is very much up there [as my best rugby experience]. We believed we could go down there and win but everything seemed to fall into place nicely and we kept chipping away at the scoreboard.

“Everything seemed to work for us. You could say Leicester are going through a sticky patch with Richard Cockerill leaving but we expressed ourselves, had some fun, scored some nice tries and ultimately qualified in Europe, which is exactly what we were after.

“It is one of the first time I have been involved in a rugby game away from home where the home side has been booed off at half time.

“Credit to our boys for playing so well.”

Glasgow now have a mouth-watering quarter-final at champions Saracens to look forward to but, for now, minds are focused on Scotland and delivering a successful Six Nations.

Hogg is sitting on 48

caps but won’t look any further than Ireland – a team Scotland have lost heavily to on too many occasions of

late.

With their kicking game , they are a team that provide Hogg with counter-attacking opportunities, as evidenced by his electrifying try in Dublin last year, but three straight losses to Munster for Glasgow this season has Hogg under no illusion that it

will be a hugely testing

opener.

“Ireland do kick the ball a lot. They are very similar to Munster the other week,” said Hogg.

“We are disappointed not to have beaten Munster any time this season. It is Scotland-Ireland now and we are in control of what we do on the pitch, so here is hoping we can get the win.

“The coaches have all worked hard for ways we can get some good change out of them.

“The kick cycle for us is a massive thing, a work-on for the backs to get these high ball catches. We hope to exploit all those areas.”