Greig Laidlaw reflected on a 75th cap which was befitting of the milestone and ranked it as one of the most memorable games of his near decade-long international career.
The scrum-half scored a cracking try and goal-kicked as flawlessly as we have come to expect as Scotland finally got involved in the World Cup with that convincing 34-0 bonus-point win over Samoa in Kobe. However, Laidlaw’s eyes were on the future, while warning not to look too far ahead to the looming showdown with Japan in Yokohama before dealing with Russia in Shizuoka next Wednesday.
Aged 33 - he turns 34 the day before the Japan clash - it is almost certain, barring any training injuries, that George Horne and the called-up Henry Pyrgos will man the scrum-half ship against Russia, which takes place just four days before the pool-stage finale against the hosts.
“You're going to be tired if that is the case,” said Laidlaw, when asked if it was possible to play two Test matches with just a four-day break between. “But we've got an excellent squad here and it's going to take a squad effort for us to get the two strong performances we need to get through.
“That's going to be vitally important. We've got boys that are hungry to play and I think if it comes to it you could do it because we want to get into the quarter-finals.”
He did look back, for a moment, to that much-improved display against Samoa in the heat and humidity of the Kobe Misaki Stadium, when Laidlaw forced his way over after a slick combination with the inspired pair of Finn Russell and Jamie Ritchie, to score the side’s second try and have them halfway to the bonus before half-time.
“It was definitely up there in terms of complete performances,” said the Clermont-Auvergne player. “We didn’t score too early in the game but the way we stuck to what we were doing, putting Samoa under pressure with our kicking game and our defence.
“That was the pleasing thing; we didn’t try to chase the game too early. That was the message but it’s one thing talking about it and another thing executing it.
“We need to use that model going forward for the rest of the tournament.”
Laidlaw cautioned: “Russia have been good so far in this tournament. Everyone has been impressed by them and so have we. That patience is going to be vitally important for the boys that are selected in the 23.
“Whoever gets the opportunity, it is going to be vitally important to get that performance right and give us momentum going into the last game.
“We can't look past [Russia]. We've got to really nail that game and if we do nail it then we'll take the momentum of two good games into the last match against Japan.
“It's going to be a tough battle. They [Japan] played extremely well against Ireland but for now it's about constructing the match against Russia.”
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