Greig Laidlaw today sounded a rallying call to the Scotland rugby team he will captain against Argentina at BT Murrayfield in Saturday’s opening Autumn Test.
“We’ve got to get wired in for 80 minutes and make Murrayfield a horrible place for the opposition,” said the goal-kicking scrum half, who needs five points to overhaul Dan Parks’ aggregate of 266 while a round dozen would see him become the third most prolific scorer in Scottish rugby history in overtaking Andy Irvine.
In seven previous outings at the helm, Laidlaw – tipped for the captaincy by the Evening News back on October 27 – demonstrated he can balance kicking responsibility with tactical decisions while undertaking primary chores.
Coach Vern Cotter, sitting alongside, was asked if this multi-tasking had proved attractive in seeking a replacement for the injured Grant Gilchrist. He replied: “Greig’s goal-kicking has been exceptional this year. He is 90 per cent.”
There was no disguising the pride shown by Laidlaw in being handed the arm band.
“It is the ultimate honour for me, something I never take lightly. The 15 who take the field will fill that jersey with pride and passion and that has to be the standard going forward. I want to lead from the front.” Reminded that Scotland have lost the last four meetings with the Pumas at Murrayfield, Laidlaw added: “It’s a good time to start if we beat them on Saturday.”
However, he warned: “They have changed their game a little bit. Traditionally they are a power team and they have still got that element. But now that they are playing in the Rugby Championship (alongside Australia, New Zealand and South Africa) they have had to expand their game if they want to compete.
“The last time they pulled on the Pumas jersey they had one of their best results (victory over Australia). It is about us stemming that and meeting fire with fire.”
A summer move from Edinburgh to Gloucester appears to have reinvigorated Laidlaw who led Scotland in summer Tests against USA and Canada before having to return home and join his new club.
“The way Gloucester play has helped me come on. It is about playing quickly – speed of passing and thought. I’ve been able to get a lot of game time under my belt and playing week in, week out always helps.
“So far, so good.
“With relegation (In the English Premiership) teams are scared of losing.
“I feel as though my game is in a good place and good competition at the club, which I knew I was going to get, has helped.”
Cotter noted: “Greig is a competitor who has developed his game with Gloucester, adding value to them.
“We will benefit from that.”
Argentina will be the 15th separate country Laidlaw has faced in a career of 31 Tests and while he prepares for this unique challenge rival Chris Cusiter has been released back to Sale Sharks to continue his recovery from a leg injury.
That means Glasgow’s Henry Pyrgos will understudy Laidlaw whose captaincy, coach Cotter made clear, is on a match-to-match basis.
Returning to the squad after missing the summer tour with concussion will be Edinburgh’s David Denton.
Powerhouse back row Denton last represented Scotland against Wales in March and a hamstring problem meant his return to Edinburgh ranks was delayed until last week.