Scots rugby stars' belief restored - Hadden

FRANK HADDEN reckons self-belief is the single greatest benefit he's brought to the Scotland rugby team since taking over as coach.

He said: "The big difference from when I started coaching Scotland last May is that players know they can win any game.

"I'm not saying we will win but for players to know that they can is much better than thinking they can't."

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As the Scots prepare for tomorrow's titanic Calcutta Cup showdown with arch rivals England at Murrayfield, Hadden's remarks provided a telling insight into damage done by previous regimes and the insistence on using negative psychology to try to provoke a response. His own optimism for tomorrow is based on the fact that the players are still buzzing from overturning significant odds as when France were beaten in Edinburgh in the last home RBS Six Nations encounter.

Hadden added: "When you are underdogs against teams like England and France with their vastly significant playing and financial resources, beating them is what makes the result so special for the fans who understand those key differences.

"Proving we can compete at this level gave us so much pleasure. Now that the players know they can compete, they are enjoying the challenge of measuring themselves against the top five sides."

The former Edinburgh Gunners guru highlighted setting up quick possession for Scotland's free-running backs as vital. He said: "The contact area will be really important. Every extra second we gain at breakdown will be a win for us."

Speaking at the end of a Scotland training session, Hadden was adamant his side could not be better prepared to pull off a first win over England since 2000.

"The Autumn Tests, allied to Six Nations clashes with France and Wales have prepared us mentally for what will be a fixture of increased intensity with the muscularity of the confrontation massive. But we draw extra strength from knowing how much the home crowd are now behind the team, especially when under the cosh as we inevitably will.

"During adversity is when our players will really need support the most to keep going, hopefully at a level experienced in my favourite spectating moment which was the 1990 Grand Slam victory with Scots cheering every time David Sole's team got a scrummage put-in.

"We are going out in a way that will get fans on the edge of their seats again and they will hopefully inspire Scotland."