Scotland skipper Greig Laidlaw is still three games away from his half-century of caps but, if selected to lead the team out at Principality Stadium on Saturday, he will pass a noteworthy landmark.
The match against Wales will be Laidlaw’s 48th cap, which will take him beyond the 47 won by his legendary uncle and fellow scrum-half Roy Laidlaw in the 1980s.
Uncle Roy forged one of the great half-back partnerships in Scottish rugby history with stand-off John Rutherford and was part of the team which secured a famous victory in 1982 when they won in Cardiff for the first time in 20 years, which is six years more than the losing streak the younger Laidlaw will be looking to help Scotland break in the Welsh capital this weekend.
“It is no secret that Roy has been a huge inspiration to me,” said Laidlaw yesterday.
“Somebody like that I have looked up to ever since I understood his achievements. In his day 47 was a lot of caps. So credit to him for that.
“He knows the game has changed since his day but we can share the fact that we have been in the same situation. There was pressure back then and he has been in the same situations.
“It may have been different eras but we have shared the same, unique experiences.
“Unless you have pulled on that jersey, unless you are out there on that field ultimately you don’t really know what it’s all about.
“His time in the Scotland jersey he always enjoyed and that is something I am trying to get across to the boys. Clearly we would enjoy it more if we won a couple more games.”
Laidlaw said the squad had taken last weekend’s 15-9 home defeat by England “on the chin” and were now fully focused on the Wales clash.
“That is what we are trying to do. It is our time in the jersey now and that is something we have talked about a fair bit,” said the 30-year-old Jedburgh man. “We don’t want to sit back and in however many years it is from now think we never put our best foot forward.
“We really think we are doing that but understand the frustrations of everybody. There is no more frustrated people than the boys downstairs in that changing room.”
Laidlaw admitted that there had been some frank talking in the wake of the Calcutta Cup loss. “It doesn’t come from me as I need to look at my own performance, as always,” he said.
“We have been brutal with one another, we are all honest men and we are able to take things on the chin.
“This game is absolutely massive for us, we are going down to a tough place to win games of rugby but it’s also a great place to go and play. We need to go there and enjoy it but we’ll need to get stuck in.”
Scotland’s Six Nations record should come with a health warning before perusing and Laidlaw needs no reminding of the frightful list of statistics which were given a further grim augmentation at the weekend.
“We are disappointed, that’s the be all and end all. No-one more so than the players,” said the Gloucester scrum-half. “We feel it more than anyone else.
“We understand we were just a bit short and the first week of the Six Nations is always tough as you don’t get too long to train together. England’s system allows them to be together more as a squad but I’m not making excuses.
“We come back to Glasgow systems, Edinburgh systems and the exiles, and we were probably a bit off our game at the weekend.
“For Scotland to win a game of rugby we need to be at our best. That was the case in the games we won at the World Cup and when we weren’t, we didn’t win.
“There is still confidence within the group, we believe we are so much better than we were. We believe we are better under [head coach] Vern [Cotter] but other teams will say the same things and ultimately we need to take that step by winning games. We are desperate to do that.”
Asked where the main areas in need of improvement ahead of the Wales test were, Laidlaw said: “We conceded two soft tries. Our defence was solid apart from two soft moments. We coughed up a few balls and if we tighten up that then it’ll go a long way.
“Wales are a good team, you saw from their game against Ireland that they are very physical. We have a few things up our sleeves which we believe will work and cause them a few problems but we won’t give them away.
“We have a good plan going into the game and we need to execute.”
Breaking the losing run is clearly the main priority but, with four games left to play, Laidlaw is adamant that Scotland still harbour hopes of competing for the title rather than the wooden spoon.
“That’s what we are trying to do, if we didn’t believe that then we shouldn’t be here,” he said. “It was a sore defeat to take [against England] but if we allow ourselves to be hindered by it going into the Wales game then we won’t win that game either. We need to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down and get ready to put our best foot forward.”