Scotland skipper Stuart Hogg insists his confidence has not been shaken by his Guinness Six Nations start. The new Dark Blues captain asked to be given the role before the tournament kicked-off after former leaders Greig Laidlaw and John Barclay announced their international retirements.
But so far Hogg has appeared to struggle with the weight of the armband. The star full-back blew a certain try in the Scots’ Dublin opener when he dropped the ball on the try line, while another slip under his own posts led to England’s winning touchdown two weeks ago.
But the 27-year-old took more care to plant down while scoring for club side Exeter against Gloucester last weekend and will now be hoping to make amends for his national side when they face Italy in Rome on Saturday.
“I will be doing my normal performance, going out to express myself and have some fun,” he told the BBC. “But everybody concentrates on the negatives nowadays, rather than the positives that happened in the game. I believe I’ve done a lot of good stuff in the past couple of weeks as well.
“But everybody concentrates on the not-so-good moments. I’m a confident player. I believe in my ability. I know that on my day I can play some good rugby. I’m looking forward to doing that on Saturday.”
(Continue reading below…)
Jim Hamilton and Darren Cave preview Scotland’s clash with Italy
Hogg’s mistakes have been highlighted but there have been deeper issues behind Scotland’s recent disappointments.
Gregor Townsend’s team had ample opportunity to punish Ireland at the Aviva Stadium earlier this month but without Racing 92 playmaker Finn Russell – who will again be absent in the Eternal City as his stand-off with Townsend continues – they lacked a killer instinct.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) February 14, 2020
And there were line out and breakdown issues as the Auld Enemy were allowed to snatch a 16-9 win in Edinburgh two weeks ago. But Hogg believes his team can kick-start their 2020 campaign at the Stadio Olimpico if they learn lessons from their two losses so far.
“We need to get our stuff spot on,” said Hogg. “We are constantly learning, but we need to learn quickly. We can’t be sitting here in a couple of years’ time saying exactly the same things. We’ve said that for a while now.
The @johnbarc86 Column:
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) February 21, 2020
“The exciting thing is we can get better. The boys are working hard to create opportunities. We do expect to win everything – but the reality is we can’t win everything.”
– Press Association
WATCH: RugbyPass Rugby Explorer takes a trek through Italian rugby
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now