Scotland can take the swagger of Glasgow’s thrashing of Leicester into the Six Nations beginning next week against Ireland, believes Stuart Hogg.
The Scotland full-back and team-mate Finn Russell strutted about Welford Road during the 43-0 victory over the Tigers on Saturday night clearly enjoying themselves and it reflects the new confidence in the Scotland squad as a whole, says Hogg.
“It was fun, very much so,” he agreed as Scotland’s Six Nations squad began a three-day camp at Oriam to prepare for the championship opener, now just ten days away.
“It is nice to play rugby with a smile on your face, a great feeling. I was laughing at what Finn was doing the whole game.
“We have had a huge amount of confidence before but this year, both club sides are going well and there are boys in form. We are excited by the challenges that come our way, and there is no better competition than the Six Nations to be involved in.
“The teams are doing well, everyone is playing well as individuals, it’s great to see all the boys coming in with smiles on their faces today.”
Head coach Vern Cotter struck a nice balance between encouraging that confidence and keeping the players’ feet on the ground, he continued.
“He encourages us to play with the confidence to try things within the game plan, to go out and express ourselves and have some fun,” added Hogg. “We will train hard, work hard and see where opportunities lie against Ireland and will try to exploit them when it comes to the game.
“We know Ireland will kick a lot, very similar to Munster, but you can have opportunities from that for counterattacks and the kick cycle will be crucial.
“There may be some carry over from our games against Munster, we are disappointed not to have beaten Munster them this season. But it is Scotland-Ireland now and we are in control of what we do on the pitch, so here is hoping we can get the win.”
Hogg of course comes back to the Six Nations having been named player of the championship last year, but he has a clean slate for 2017.
“That was nice, but it’s in the past. I had the trophy for six months and it’s already gone back,” he said.
Glasgow’s players came into camp on Sunday night having been bussed home through the night after their historic win, which with the PRO12 final win is Hogg’s highlight in a Glasgow shirt.
“We believed we could go down there and win, but everything seemed to fall into place nicely and work for us,” he said.
“You could say Leicester are going through a sticky patch but we expressed ourselves, had some fun, scored some nice tries and ultimately qualified in Europe, which is exactly what we were after.
“It is one of the first times I have been involved in a rugby game away from home where the home side has been booed off at half time.”
The long bus trip was a lot better than it might have been, with some songs, a couple of beers, and even doughnuts, he added.
“Ben Youngs and Tom Croft were on the Lions with me and they have a doughnut business at Welford Road, so they gave us some and I’m never going to turn down a doughnut,” he said.
“It was great to be able to get home straight after the game. Just a couple of quiet beers and chuffed to have come home with a great victory.”