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Hogg's classy response to Jones' 'Scotland red-hot favourites' quip

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Ross Parker/SNS Group via Getty Images)

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Stuart Hogg has sidestepped getting involved in the discussion about Eddie Jones labelling Scotland as “red-hot favourites” for this Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations match at Murrayfield. The England boss not only claimed that the Scottish squad was two years ahead of the English in terms of its general development but he also tagged them as the team every Scottish fan was expecting to begin the 2022 championship with a victory.

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Scotland are red-hot favourites. They have got to cope with that expectation, there is 62,000 fans and then they will be thinking about all the fans on BBC television that are watching the game, so they have got to carry that burden,” said Jones. 

“It is the first time I have been in the experience of going up there with Scotland as red-hot favourites. They are expected to win. Every time the players look at the crowd at Murrayfield they will feel that expectation. They are expected to win, they are red-hot favourites so they have got to cope with that.”

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The coach later added: “The last couple of years they have improved considerably… If we were to be blatantly honest, they are probably two years ahead of us in terms of development.”

It was Thursday morning when the England coach had his say and it was Friday afternoon at his captain’s run media briefing when Hogg was asked for his reaction to Jones labelling Scotland as red-hot favourites. The skipper chuckled and initially hesitated to answer as he gathered his thoughts.

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He then said: “For me, we just concentrate on getting our things right. It is irrelevant what is written, what is said. We have got respect and admiration for everything Eddie has done in his rugby career. As a coach, he has been absolutely tremendous working with some of the best sides in world rugby and you know he is always going to chuck a comment out here and there. I’m not biting, I’m not getting involved in it.”

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What Hogg did embrace was that this particular Scotland squad was very talented, the 29-year-old suggesting it was the best in his ten years involved at Test level. “It is definitely the best squad I have been involved in, put it that way. For me, the excitement, the buzz, the cohesion that this group has got is the best it has ever been and that is down to everything we do as a squad. 

“We want boys to be the best version of themselves every single day, we want boys to come in here and be themselves, to enjoy the opportunities that they get. We spent very little time actually on the training field together. It is only for an hour, an hour-and-a-half every single day.

“The rest of the time we are spending time together whether that be playing cards, having conversations, learning more about each other and it speaks volumes for what happens on the field. It is definitely an environment and a squad that has been the best it has ever been in terms of the ten years that I have been involved.” 

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