Tension inside the Scotland camp
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Greig Laidlaw has revealed things are getting tetchy on the Scotland training ground in Japan.
Gregor Townsend’s squad commenced their World Cup with a harrowing defeat to Ireland last Sunday in Yokohama, a result that led to tensions in training on Thursday ahead of next Monday’s match with Samoa.
“The mood has been pretty tough, as you can imagine. We feel it more than anybody. It has been tough but it has happened. There was a bit of niggle in training today [Thursday], which sometimes happens, but we had it before the Ireland game as well.”
A 36-33 win over Samoa was critical in helping Scotland qualify for the quarter-finals in 2015. Another win is now needed if the Scots are to keep alive their prospects of reaching the last eight.
The Samoans began their campaign in Japan with a bruising win over Russia that resulted in two yellow-carded players being cited for high tackles that many felt should have been red cards.
Laidlaw, though, refused to go so far and label the Samoan tackling as nasty. “I don’t think it is a nastiness,” he said. “I know Motu Matu’u [one cited player] 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. It is just in their make-up and how they play the game… the tackles are being looked at. They were two clear headshots and pretty brutal ones at that. Ultimately you are looking for the ref to look after players.”
Despite the negativity surrounding Scotland following their capitulation to Ireland, Laidlaw insisted his team were currently no worse than previous Scottish squads at the World Cup.
“No Scottish team has ever won all four pool matches [Scotland won all three in 1991], so at the minute we’re not any different to any other team. We’ve just had the No.1-ranked team in the world up first.
“Were we pleased with our performance? No, far from it. But now every game is a knockout and we need to get it right against Samoa on Monday,”