Four years ago Samoa took Scotland to the brink in the World Cup and it was the scrum-half in dark blue that rescued them in Newcastle, and Greig Laidlaw doesn’t want the same game this Monday.
The Scots take on Samoa trailing the Islanders in the pool, and have always had difficulties in putting them away in recent matches, not least in the game at St James’ Park in 2015.
Laidlaw’s goalkicking and late try eventually saw Scotland prevail, but Samoa scored in excess of 30 points both then – even though they were already out of the tournamwent – and when they came to Murrayfield for a November test in 2017.
“We scored more points than them in 2015 and ultimately that is all that matters,” recalled the former skipper. ““I remember our forwards getting on top near the end of the game. We will need our pack to really put their imprint on the game for us. That is a big part of their challenge.
“Samoa are a good team but they are a team we can score points against if we get our attack right. It is about doing the simple things very well.”
The mood in the camp has been less than great, Laidlaw conceded, but they had left the Ireland game behind now.
“The mood has been pretty tough, because we feel it more than anybody,” he said, “There was a bit of niggle in training today which sometimes happens, but we had it before the Ireland game as well.
“We have to make sure we bring that into the game as well this time and get this World Cup up and running.
“I’m not going to dress it up , it’s been hard to lift the players again. We’ve worked hard to this point and are extremely disappointed with how we played against Ireland but we’ve got to pick ourselves up and go again.
“No Scottish team has ever won all four pool matches (in the modern RWC) Now every game is a knock-out and we need to get it right against Samoa on Monday night.
Laidlaw does hope that referee Pascal Gauzere is vigilant with some of the Samoan hitting in their first game against Russia going over the top.
“They were two clear head shots, and pretty brutal ones at that,” he said. “Ultimately you are looking for the ref to look after players. I thought they were red cards.
“I don’t think it is a nastiness. I know ‘Motu Maatu’u pretty well, I played with him at Gloucester. He just likes to hit people pretty hard, it is part of the way they are as people, they like that physical part of the game.
“These are knock-out games now so it’s vitally important that we keep our discipline no matter what’s happening round about us.
“That’s discipline in our defence, in not giving penalties, in our attack shape. It’s right across the field for 80 minutes.”
Defeat to Ireland has concentrated Laidlaw’s mind about his final World Cup, he admitted.
“Any time you don’t win a Test match you’re disappointed. It doesn’t get any easier, especially knowing I’m not going to play in another World Cup,” said the 34-year-old.
“From my experiences the last time getting to the quarters, it was a good experience but we wanted to go further.
“These tournaments only role round every four years so it’s a big opportunity and I’ll be highly motivated come Monday night so we can get a foot hold in this group and this World Cup.”