SCOTLAND have been cast in the role of kingmakers as the race for this year’s RBS 6 Nations battle royal goes to the wire - but forward Adam Ashe admits he could not care less who ends up wearing the crown.
The Dark Blues host reigning champions Ireland on the final day of this year’s thrilling championships.
Only points difference separates Joe Schmidt’s team from title rivals England and Wales as all three vie for the throne.
Vern Cotter’s Scotland could play a vital role in deciding the eventual winner but all Ashe is concerned about is ensuring his side are not slayed for the fifth time this year.
The 21-year-old flanker said: “Having a say in the race for the title doesn’t really give us any extra motivation. We are focusing on ourselves completely.
“We need to get this campaign back on track. It’s not been a good year for us, so we are not thinking about spoiling anyone’s chances of winning.
“To be honest, I’ve not even thought about who might win - I’ve only been thinking about what this games means to us and the country.”
Saturday’s Murrayfield clash is the Scots’ last chance to claim a morale boost before they turn their attentions to September’s World Cup kick-off.
There have been bright spots for Cotter, like the emergence of Mark Bennett as an inspirational centre, the continuing flourishing of full-back Stuart Hogg and Jonny Gray’s maturing role in the second row.
But none of that has been enough to provide his side with the win they crave, despite having held their own for chunks of the meetings with France, Wales, Italy and England so far.
The Scots feel hard done by and Ashe says that sense of injustice has got his team-mates all fired up.
“I don’t know if one win would salvage the Championships but it would certainly mean we finish on a positive note,” said the Glasgow back-rower.
“It’s a big year coming up to the World Cup so we want to finish on a high and move on.
“We’re hurting as much as everyone else is. We believe as a group of players we are better than the results have showed and that we shouldn’t be in this position.
“But we are so we are going to give everything this weekend to get a win.
“There is almost an anger about it. We would give everything to get this win and that is the way it should be.”
Ashe’s involvement in this year’s contest only began last week with a substitute role at Twickenham after a neck injury suffered during the November Tests lingered on longer than he hoped.
But Ashe revealed it was some soothing words from Cotter which helped him remain strong during his three-month lay-off.
Ashe - who collects his fifth cap - said: “I had a couple of set backs but I tried to stay as positive as possible and keep working hard to get back on the field.
“Thankfully I’ve made it back for the last two games.
“It was tough being out and missing those first three games. I came to the Wales game here at Murrayfield and it was hard to watch.
“But there is nothing you can do about it. You just need to focus on yourself and making sure you get back out the pitch.
“The staff at Glasgow were really great at keeping my head up and I just took it a week at a time. Making sure I got back for the Six Nations was a big aim.
“Vern also kept in contact with me to make sure I was okay. I spoke to him a couple of times on the phone.
“It was good to know the coaches still had me in the back of their minds. It does motivate you to get back.”
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