Gregor Townsend’s side kicked off their Guinness Six Nations campaign with a stunning 29-23 triumph over England at the weekend but it is 27 years since they last won their opening two games in the championship. In each of the last two seasons they have followed up wins over England with defeats by Wales in round 2, squandering promising positions after picking up a card. Scotland were leading the Welsh 17-15 in Edinburgh in 2021 when Zander Fagerson was red-carded for a dangerous ruck clear-out in the 53rd minute and eventually lost 25-24. Last year in Cardiff, the match was locked at 17-17 when Finn Russell was yellow-carded for a deliberate knock-on in the 67th minute. Dan Biggar dropped a goal while Russell was in the sin-bin and Wales won 20-17.
“Discipline is crucial,” said de Villiers. “We have been fortunate against England with no discipline errors or cards. We need to take that forward into the game against Wales this weekend. That said, there are more cards in the game nowadays. It’s up to us to be prepared and be able to manage those moments well if they do occur. We know discipline will be absolutely key for us and we need to be ready to continue with that.”
Fagerson is fit to face Wales after missing the Twickenham match as he recovered from a hamstring injury. Hamish Watson is also in the mix after his return from a concussion injury and de Villiers said the experienced duo’s availability had created a selection dilemma for Townsend, with WP Nel in particular playing well in Fagerson’s absence. “Zander is available for selection, so is Hamish, and we’ve also got a lot of players in form in those two positions of loose-forward and front-row, so the competition will be stiff in those two departments,” said de Villiers. “Zander has trained well. The other props have trained well too and we’re in the fortunate position to have to make difficult choices and that’s a good place to be.”
Scott Cummings, the Glasgow Warriors second-row forward, will train with the squad this week after recovering from a long-term foot injury but will not be considered for the Wales game. Andy Christie, the Saracens flanker, has been ruled out and has returned to his club for treatment on a dead leg.