Nobody in Scotland’s starting rugby line-up at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, tomorrow knows the Welsh opposition quite as well as Sean Lamont.
The 31-year-old centre has faced them an unsurpassed six times and, for good measure, he currently plays his club rugby at Llanelli Scarlets, pending a move back across the border to Glasgow next season.
So, when Lamont says there might be an opportunity to catch the Red Dragons with their guard down, it is wise to take note.
The 2007 Scottish player of the Six Nations Championship said: “Wales have taken notice of Scottish rugby and Glasgow are now ahead of Llanelli in the RaboDirect Pro 12 League, for example. But my feeling is the Welsh don’t respect us and don’t respect what we can do
“Hopefully they will be complacent at the weekend and not rate us. Stuff I’ve heard coming out of their camp and from some of the stuff [coach] Warren Gatland said before the Six Nations, you can tell there is not a lot of respect there. Hopefully we will show them, give them a reason to pay attention.”
It is almost as if Scotland’s try-scoring travails can be traced back to an incident involving Lamont in Cardiff two years ago when a scoring pass to Kelly Brown which could have opened up a gap between the sides early on was adjudged forward, in a decision many critics deemed marginal at the very least.
Since then, Scotland have generally struggled to score tries and, like many others in the Scotland squad this week, Lamont has been looking to find answers to the problem.
If the general tenor has a familiar ring then the tone in which the centre addresses the subject has a determined edge.
Lamont says: “We know we can do it but I know we’ve said that a lot recently and it’s been the same old story – close but no cigar.
“We have got to turn things around. It’s been years of so close but not quite. We can only say that so often ...
“Everybody goes on about a lack of tries but it’s not for the want of trying on the part of the players.
“We had a ridiculous stat for the massive amount of possession in the opposition ‘22’ against England last time but, barring Greig Laidlaw’s chip and chase which went to the video ref, we crossed the whitewash just once
“It’s been knock-ons and generally things like little turn-overs, people making a break then a lofted pass doesn’t go to hand and momentum is lost.
“It’s not far to put it right. We can do it but we just have to believe.
“If you get on top of a team the crowd get on their backs.
“You can start pressurising them a bit more and they start chasing, going for offloads and you get bigger hits in.
“They might start making errors. Our biggest thing is doing it for the full 80 minutes.
“We didn’t do it in Cardiff last time. We didn’t do it against England and Argentina in the World Cup.
“We didn’t really do it against England at the weekend. The kick Dan Parks had charged down [which gave England a match-winning converted try] wasn’t his fault because the guys didn’t come round the corner and cover him for the clearance kick.
“Greig Laidlaw is in now and he brings a different game. We’re going to be facing a defence that is not as blitzy as it used to be but still quite aggressive
“So, we’ll have to adjust our moves for that.
“It might be on first phase or on the second when their defence is recovering but we will alter our approach.”
Playing on the front foot as much as possible will certainly be desirable because Lamont’s inside track ensures he will never be found wanting so far as respect for Wales is concerned.
“I know the Scarlets guys will be keeping their feet on the ground.
“They are down to earth and I know, too, that rugby is Wales’ national sport, bigger than football.
“That makes youth come through like George North who, at 19, almost has a cap for every year of his age and he could do that by the time he’s 20, I suspect.
“If you do let these guys get a head of steam and run like they did last year at Murrayfield [6-24] they will back themselves when they get that roll on.
“But our guys from Edinburgh and Glasgow play Welsh clubs in the RaboDirect League and everybody should know everybody else.
“It is about us coming together and dealing with the Welsh threat collectively, which I’m confident we can do.”