Scotland’s next step towards success in the Six Nations is consistency – and winning again in front of the Murrayfield fans, believes Ali Price.
The Scots have not been short of a milestone moment over the past 18 months, but sustaining those successes into the next game has proved an issue. Last year, with back-to-back games at Murrayfield after the historic Twickenham victory, the Scots lost by a point to Wales and by just three to Ireland.
‘We want to back it up across the five games’
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) February 2, 2022
“We had that win at Twickenham, the first in 30 odd years, and we were in a great position the following week against Wales in terms of scoreline,” recalled the Lions scrum-half.
“But they got it by a point come the end. Ireland, again, was a three-point game. It’s just putting it all together now.
“Every squad in the championship will be in a good place, every squad will believe they can win it. This tournament is all about trying to get some early momentum.
“It’s not about having one great performance this weekend and then not backing it up because we’d then be in no better a position than previous years.
“You can’t look past the first game, it’s massive, especially England at home. But for us, it’s about putting on a good performance, getting a result, and then backing it up across the five games.”
Return of the ’16th man’
Given those home losses last year were so close, you can’t think that a full house at Murrayfield would have helped.
“The crowd at BT Murrayfield are incredible, their energy is something you can’t compare,” said Price. “They are definitely the 16th man for us.
“We will never know whether those games might have been different with a crowd. But what we do know is that if we are playing well and we can bring the crowd into the game. It’ll help us massively because we can feed off that.
“We all missed the crowds. By the time we were a few months into it, though, it became strangely normal.
“But since the crowds have been back, you realise just how much you miss it and how much you miss the buzz you get from them.”
‘Finn’s not a maverick, he’s just himself’
For Price, the highlight will be linking up with his best mate Finn Russell, taking on England’s new pairing of veteran Ben Youngs and youngster Marcus Smith.
“Ben plays a massive role for the England team, especially now that (Owen) Farrell’s out,” said Price. “Ben has over 110 caps for England and has a huge amount of experience. He’s a very cool and calm player.
“Having someone like that inside Marcus will help them, but I think Marcus is still going to play the way he usually does. It’s really similar to how we play here in Scotland in terms of our control. But we’ve got our own 10 in Finn who can break a game up at any moment.
“I wouldn’t say he’s a maverick. I would say he reads the game differently to pretty much any other 10 in the world.
“The space he sees and the skillset he has that enables him to pull off certain moves – the chips, the long balls, the passes – makes him unique.
“He’s not a maverick, he’s just himself. My job is to try and help facilitate that as much as I can.
“He’s always looking for space. We’ve got a good relationship where we know what each other is thinking most of the time, which obviously helps.”