The big loss against a world-class England almost deflated all the confidence the team had gathered going into that game. There were so many circumstances that resulted in the hammering that we witnessed. We mentioned last week about losing Fraser Brown having a big impact but also to concede three tries from lineout set piece is pretty much unheard of in top level internationals. But I still believe Scotland have one of the most dangerous attacks in the championship, even scoring three tries against England. The power and accuracy when they enter the opposition 22 is frightening all opponents. Credit has to go to the new attack coach Jason O’Halloran.
This convincing win against Italy will help the Scotland players build on the confidence they took from the other two victories at Murrayfield.
There have been a few stand-out players for me during the championship. Zander Fagerson, playing in one of the toughest positions on the pitch, and being the youngest player as well, is phenomenal when you think about it. His carrying and work over the ball puts him in pole position to be the Scotland No.3 for the next ten years. The scrum struggled at times but there was a huge improvement against Italy.
Also Hamish Watson did well to come from relative obscurity before the championship to being one of the best players on the pitch in all but the England game. His power for a relatively small man reminds me of the Australian Michael Hooper and I love watching him play.
Whilst the dust settles on the championship all the talk will be on the Lions’ tour this summer. I know as a player in 2013 that following a decent Six Nations from Scotland, all the players will be thinking about is whether they will be on that plane. It’s the pinnacle of any player’s career and after three big wins a lot of guys have put their hands up.
I still don’t think Scotland will come out of this Six Nations with the respect they deserve from the powers that be in the Lions’ management. Yes, they will have taken notice for once but I still think the tour will be dominated by the English, Irish and of course Wales.
If I was to say for certain who was going I would say Stuart Hogg, of course, Fraser Brown as well. I think the power and physicality he poses will be needed in New Zealand and no other hooker has his raw strength. Tommy Seymour is another of my picks. I hope I’m wrong and we see a ten-strong Scottish contingent.
A quick note on the departing Vern Cotter. I know he wasn’t a huge fan of mine but, secretly, I have been a huge fan of his. The culture and style of rugby he has got Scotland playing is something to admire. He has galvanised a nation and made them believe in rugby again.
Was that a tear in his eye we witnessed after his final match?
All the best back in the south of France. Scotland will miss you!