EDINBURGH (Reuters) - Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw has played down the importance of Saturday’s home Six Nations clash with Ireland as a marker for the Rugby World Cup in Japan and says his side are concentrating on claiming the European crown for now.
The teams will meet in their opening World Cup Pool A game in Yokohama on Sept. 22, with the victor in that fixture likely to head the group and avoid a possible quarter-final with defending champions New Zealand.
Laidlaw believes his team must rather concentrate on the here and now, and not think too far ahead.
“We certainly won’t be thinking about it tomorrow,” the scrumhalf told reporters on Friday.
“It’s about the Six Nations at the minute. So we’ll just be concentrating on the next game. If we want to go on and take the next step, it’s games like this we need to win.
“Ireland are quality opposition, one of the best teams in the world. If we want to win tomorrow we’ll need one of our best games.”
Scotland survived a late rally from Italy to claim a 33-20 victory in their Six Nations opener at Murrayfield last Saturday in which they defended poorly in the final quarter, but Laidlaw says they will not stray from their attacking style of rugby.
“Everybody knows the way Scotland want to play the game,” he said. “We won’t really deviate from that, but we’ve got to be smart about the times when we play.”
The players practiced in wet and windy conditions on Friday as Storm Erik, which will bring gusts of up to 70-km per hour, possibly into Saturday afternoon.
“If it comes in like it’s meant to, it’s difficult,” Laidlaw admitted. “It’s vitally important your half-backs give the team direction on days like that.”
Scotland beat Ireland 27-22 at Murrayfield in 2017, but have lost five of their last six meetings home and away.
Reporting By Nick Said; Editing by Angus MacSwan