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Wednesday 29 March 2017

Pre-match nerves can help us prepare says Cotter

Scots coach Vern Cotter
Scots coach Vern Cotter

Vern Cotter believes the butterflies in Scotland's stomachs can help his side soar when they take on Ireland tomorrow.

The Dark Blues head coach confessed his team may have to shake off some first-night nerves when they open their Six Nations campaign at Murrayfield.

But he believes the tension he has sensed around the squad means his team have their minds firmly focused on shooting down Joe Schmidt's men.

"It's an exciting start," said the Kiwi, who departs at the end of the tournament.

"Ireland have just beaten the All Blacks, they've beaten Australia and South Africa. These are not one-off results. Consistently they're a good team, so we get the chance to measure ourselves against them.

"I can feel a nervousness within the group. They know it's a big game. They're ready to roll their sleeves up and ha ve a go.

"I think being a little bit nervous means you're sharper and more on edge. You need that. You need to be wary of the opposition. Especially against these guys.

"We need to be sharp. We need to be able to adapt. They'll have plays we haven't seen, we need to adapt to them."

But regardless of Cotter's thought, Scotland have every right to be apprehensive ahead of their opening clash.

It is 11 years since they started the tournament with a win, while they face an Ireland side who they have beaten just three times since the tournament expanded to six teams in 2000.

But those facts have done little to dilute the confidence generated by the Scots' autumn displays, where they ran Australia close ahead of comfortable wins against Argentina and Georgia.

The added mix of some fine European performances by Glasgow and Edinburgh has only ramped up expectations but now, according to Cotter, the time has come to deliver.

He said: "We've continually been trying to improve. That's the only thing you can do.

"The guys have a vision for the Six Nations. There are no guarantees in sport, we know that. But that desire we've seen for the last two seasons is still there.

"Can we win the whole thing? I think the trap is every year that Scotland get talked up.

"We are realistic. We know what the rugby hierarchy is at the moment. It's up to us to change that."

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