Scotland forwards coach Jonathan Humphreys has challenged Geoff Cross to make the tight-head prop position his own against Wales at BT Murrayfield on Sunday.
The London Irish prop is odds-on to step up from the bench and start for a 37th cap due to Euan Murray’s refusal to play on Sundays because of his religious beliefs.
“Euan played extremely well at the weekend (against France) but hopefully whoever steps into his position will want to keep it,” said Humphreys who is expected to call Glasgow’s Jon Welsh into the stand-bys.
For Cross the fixture will always have mixed memories as the 2009 instalment saw him make an international debut only to be yellow carded in the process of being carried off after a clumsy tackle on Lee Byrne.
Cross has gone on to acquit himself well and that chimes positively with Humphreys whose message is always to look to the future.
Where Humphreys does allow himself a backward glance is not when dealing with Scotland but to the days when he was turning out at hooker for Wales – and expectations were as enormous then as they are now.
“They (the fans) care about it but it can be suffocating. In the camp is where the players cocoon,” said Humphreys. “I presume the media will be going crazy. When you are riding the crest of wave it’s fantastic. When you are not it is not a good place to be.”
Humphreys, capped 35 times including twice against Scotland and both at Murrayfield (one win, one loss) again draws on experience to assess the visitors’ mood in the wake of defeat by England.
“Wales will go into a siege mentality. They will draw into themselves, go back and concentrate on the things they think that define them and make them a good team.
“That is trying to be more physical than the opposition, limit set pieces and try to dominate field position. They won’t be vulnerable because they have been there before and know how to get out of it.”
He also has a warning for Scotland to beware the boot of Welsh kicker, Leigh Halfpenny. “Leigh can probably kick penalties from 60 metres out.
“Everybody who plays Wales will say the same - ‘we can’t give away penalties because of him’.”