Scotland centre Alex Dunbar has come through his concussion protocols after taking a head knock in Paris and is relishing another physical midfield battle with Wales on Saturday.
The Glasgow player, pictured, had an eventful afternoon at the Stade de France, with his accidental entanglement contributing to skipper Greig Laidlaw’s Six Nations-ending ankle injury and once again playing the role of defensive rock as the Scots restricted the fearsome French barrage to just one try conceded.
“He fell in and he felt the pressure on his knee and leg,” Dunbar recalled of the unfortunate Laidlaw incident.
“It is just one of these freak things that happens. I couldn’t tell you what happened. I had to watch it back because at the time I did not know what happened as I was just in the moment.”
Scotland have also lost Glasgow forward Josh Strauss for the rest of the competition to a kidney injury and the Warriors centre added: “It’s tough for them. Greig was captain and leading us well, and I thought Josh played really well against France. It’s a bit of a loss, but it gives other boys a chance to step up.”
Dunbar is likely to be teamed with Huw Jones once again and is looking forward to coming up against Welsh centres like Jonathan Davies and Scott Williams.
“Wales were very good against England,” he said of their 21-16 loss to Eddie Jones’s side in Cardiff. “They bring a physical presence that we need to match. Their midfield are big ball-carriers, and they have some in the pack as well, so we need to get off the line and stop them getting momentum.”
Dunbar explained that the squad were clear on what needs to improve this weekend. “The set-piece,” he said. “Get our launches right and get a platform to play off. We had the chances [against France], we just didn’t play smart enough at times.”
Dunbar accepts that, after one win and one loss, this third match on the middle weekend is looming as the pivotal moment of the campaign.
“It’s a big challenge,” he said. “We were disappointed last week in Paris, but we want to bounce back and it’s a good test. We’ve had a lot of good battles against Wales in the last few years. We’ve not won the games, but we’ve been close in a few, so hopefully this year we can turn it around.”