September 4, 2015 / 2:06 AM / 2 years ago

Rugby-Canny Laidlaw is Scotland's beating heart

LONDON, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Tenacious, streetwise and reliable, Greig Laidlaw will be the conductor when he leads Scotland into this year's World Cup.

The scrumhalf leads his team by example and his courage and spikiness epitomise everything good in Scottish rugby traditions.

The 29-year-old is a nephew of former Scotland scrumhalf Roy Laidlaw and if coach Vern Cotter's team are to make an impact in the global showpiece their captain must play at the peak of his powers.

"Greig is an inspirational leader and he achieves that by setting an example to the other players through his own performances on the pitch," former Scotland fullback Hugo Southwell told Reuters.

"He's not a big shouter or even talker. He just gets on with his job and expects his team mates to follow his lead."

Laidlaw has played 40 times for his country since making his debut in 2011 and several appearances at flyhalf showed off his full repertoire of footballing skills.

"Greig has got the complete all-round game," Southwell said. "He can lead the team round the park and make yards with his quick feet and sniping runs. And he knows when to pass to bring other players into the game."

Laidlaw is also one of the most reliable points scorers in international rugby.

"On top of all that he is an 80 or 90 percent place kicker," Southwell said. "He brings such a lot to the team."

Legendary rugby commentator Bill McLaren once famously described Roy Laidlaw as attacking like "a baggy up a Border burn", referring to an elusive highland fish, and that description could equally be applied to Greig.

He left Edinburgh in 2014 to join Gloucester and enjoyed a consistent first year in the England.

"I played well in the Premiership for Gloucester, I won the Challenge Cup in my first season," Laidlaw said.

"I am only 29 and I still have a hell of a lot to give to the Scotland jersey."

Laidlaw is also realistic about where Scotland are after they finished last in this year's Six Nations.

"We needed the long build-up to prepare for the World Cup because we had a poor Six Nations and we need to get things right and make sure that we get out of the group," he said.

Realistic, honest and pragmatic, Laidlaw is the ideal leader for a proud rugby nation as they continue their perennial battle to keep up with the sport's superpowers.

Editing by Mitch Phillips

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