Scotland talisman Stuart Hogg believes Scotland can beat England at Twickenham today if they play for 80 minutes and stick to their gameplan.
The full-back said: “If we get things right, put in an 80- minute performance and get our gameplan right then it should result in a win.
“I truly believe that.”
Ahead of Scotland’s bid to win the Triple Crown and Calcutta Cup, which would require a first win in London since 1983, they broke with tradition and did away with the usual captain’s run on the big pitch at Twickenham.
Instead they completed their final session across the road from their base at the Lensbury Club in Teddington.
And, given that long winless streak at England’s HQ, Hogg reckons it’s just as well that head coach Vern Cotter rang the changes.
Hogg said: “Without being cheeky, it is two sets of goalposts and a stadium.
“We got out and did the session work we needed. We have to just focus on ourselves and Finn [Russell] is already down there doing some goalkicking. We have been here before!”
The last time Scotland played at Twickenham was the 2015 World Cup quarter-final, which they lost 35-34 to Australia after a notorious referring blunder, so perhaps they deserve a little luck this time.
And Hogg reiterated what everyone in the Scotland squad has said in the two weeks since a commanding victory over Wales breathed life into the England fixture after it had become a little too predictable in recent years.
“We have analysed them a fair bit and opportunities will come,” added Hogg.
“Here is hoping we can execute them. There will be momentum shifts in this game. We will be on the back foot, we will be under pressure but it is all about how we react to these situations. We have to take the initiative and keep the scoreboard ticking over
“This is the first time since I have been involved that it is round four and we are still in the hunt. That’s hugely exciting for everyone. It’s nothing short of what we deserved. We worked hard for this. What better opportunity than playing England at Twickenham?
“This is why you play rugby – for these massive occasions. It is a huge opportunity and a huge occasion for us to go out there, express ourselves and have some fun.
“We are very much work in progress. Since Vern came in we have come on in leaps and bounds. We believe in ourselves. We have got the ability to go out and win matches. We are not going to lie down and have our bellies tickled. We are going out there to get some victories.
”I’m sitting here shaking, I just want to get out there and play. For me it has been a long couple of weeks since the Welsh game. The boys have rested up well. We are excited for tomorrow. It’s a great place to play, Twickenham.”
Hogg himself is a changed man these days, more thoughtful off the field, more authoritative on it. When asked to comment on the full-back’s importance to the team, backs coach Jason O’Halloran did not pick out his obvious attacking threat but instead pointed to some more recent additions to Hogg’s armoury.
O’Halloran said: “I think people focus on Hoggy’s running game but the thing that pleases me most is the fact that he’s put other people into space recently.
“He played a big part in [Tim] Visser’s try against Wales, which was pivotal to that result.
“The selfless nature of that type of performance is what impresses me the most about Hoggy.
“I think he has really improved, high ball-wise as well, so there are definitely aspects of his game that are getting better and that is crucial if he wants to be a Test starter for the [British & Irish] Lions and I certainly hope and believe that he’s capable of that.”
Hogg himself was asked what a victory today would mean to him, a mere 34 years after the last time a Scottish team exited Twickenham with the Calcutta Cup in their luggage.
“It would be up there, that’s for sure,” Hogg replied.
“Winning a trophy [the Pro 12] with Glasgow was outstanding but a win for us on Saturday would be massive. Coming to Twickenham and getting a victory would go down in history. It’s a long way off yet but we will keep calm and hopefully our performance will do the talking.”