Scotland skipper Greig Laidlaw admits it will be “awkward” coming face to face with Craig Joubert again but insists he won’t allow that particular sideshow to distract from the job in hand this weekend.
The South African referee, who inflicted World Cup heartache on the Scots when his wrongly-awarded late penalty gave Australia a dramatic 35-34 quarter-final win, will be a touch judge at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday when Scotland face Ireland in the last Six Nations match.
Joubert was widely criticised for running off the Twickenham pitch after his final whistle last October, and Laidlaw, whose side are looking for a third straight win in the tournament, was asked if he expects to receive the handshake he is owed.
“You know, I think I’ll get asked this for the rest of my career,” he said. “The answer is I don’t know. If we get a handshake then, well, it’s not going to change the result. It won’t change what happened, unfortunately.
“As we’ve said before, mistakes happen and we’ll never get it back.
“It will probably be a bit awkward, I’m not going to lie, when he comes into the dressing room. But we can’t worry about that. If we do, we’ll take our eye off the ball for the game. And clearly we don’t want to do that.”
Asked if he had put the disappointment of that World Cup exit behind him, Laidlaw paused before he said: “To be honest, I don’t know. That’s the only answer I have. It’s always going to be there, isn’t it?
“But what I want to do is win another game in the Six Nations. I can only come back to that. The more times you win in a Scotland jersey, the better your memory of the experience will be. That’s all I’m trying to do on the weekend.”
Scotland will be looking to carry the momentum from Sunday’s morale-boosting 29-18 home win over France but will be without lock Jonny Gray when they travel to Dublin later in the week after he was ruled out yesterday with a pectoral tear.
It was also confirmed that No 8 David Denton, who was forced out of the previous win over Italy on the eve of the match in Rome with a groin injury, will miss the trip too.
Ryan Wilson and Josh Strauss have played No 8 in the past two games, while Tim Swinson has been covering lock on the bench and could replace Gray on Saturday, with either Glasgow’s Rob Harley or Edinburgh’s Ben Toolis drafted into the matchday squad.