Six Nations: Greig Laidlaw holds the key for Scotland

Ali Price's running  will be an asset to Scotland, says former captain Bryan Redpath. Picture: SNS/SRU.
Ali Price's running will be an asset to Scotland, says former captain Bryan Redpath. Picture: SNS/SRU.
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Former Scotland scrum-half Bryan Redpath believes that Greig Laidlaw can make the difference during the upcoming Six Nations if the team need to close out tight games – but he feels Ali Price will start in the No 9 jersey in Cardiff on Saturday

Much of the talk in the build-up to Scotland’s opener against Wales in the showpiece event at the Principality Stadium has centred around the debate over who will start at scrum-half for Gregor Townsend’s men.

Glasgow Warriors’ Price is the man in possession at the moment, having acquitted himself well during the Autumn Tests and built up his relationship with clubmate Finn Russell at stand-off in the national team.

However, the more experienced Laidlaw, 32, is now fit again following injury and has been back in action for his French club, Clermont.

As a former skipper, head coach Townsend sees Laidlaw, pictured below, having a big role within the group over the next couple of months, but has he done enough to start come the weekend?

“With Greig having just come back from injury, I think Ali will get the nod to start this time,” said Redpath, who won 60 caps between 1993 and 2003 and captained Scotland.

“Both can start and will do a fine job and that is a good problem for Scotland to have.

“Ali’s running game is top drawer, but to be the complete player and help the team his passing and kicking to release the pressure off Finn is massive as well.

“Greig is a different 
player, but his goal-kicking and game management over the last few years has grown and he can be the difference when it comes to winning the tight games.

“When he is kicking, he seems so calm under pressure and late on in games having him on the pitch could be good for Scotland.”

Redpath, now 46 and working in Manchester, played the last time Scotland won in Cardiff in 2002. That day the Scots came out on top 27-22 and Redpath said: “I loved playing in Cardiff. It was one of the best places in the world to play. The fans were so passionate when the anthems played – a great place.

“Going into this year’s match both teams have injuries and any away win is massive and Scotland have a great chance.

“I know Gregor well and his career development has been outstanding.

“He has learned and created a strong playing culture which resembles how Scotland have played in years gone by – quick, fast and aggressive.

“The bench is key in modern-day rugby and if the replacements make an impact then Scotland can win three games in the Six Nations.”

Meanwhile, another former Scotland captain believes Hamish Watson and skipper John Barclay will be key if the Scots are to win in Cardiff.

“Watson and Barclay have both been playing brilliantly,” 44-year-old Budge Pountney said.

“Hamish is great to watch. He is powerful, fast and completely fearless, which are great traits for a seven.

“Barclay looks to be enjoying his captaincy responsibilities and his form hasn’t been affected, but I expect his senior team-mates are working around the squad to help him out.

“It’s great to see that Scotland are playing with a fast, dynamic and creative style.

“It looks like the players are loving what Gregor is doing. Gregor would always look to play at great pace as a 
player and with huge 
creativity.

“All of us old players are hoping Scotland can keep up their form that has been building up since last summer and stick to the way they are playing and I think this will be a very open Six Nations.”