Stuart Hogg: Scots won't lie down to have our bellies tickled
Stuart Hogg has spent the past month being scared witless by Scotland skipper John Barclay '“ but he insists it will be no shock if his side stun England at Twickenham.
A series of videos showing the Glasgow full-back leaping in terror as Barclay appears from nowhere to scream in his face have gone viral in recent weeks.
But Hogg reckons the clips just highlight the air of positivity running through Vern Cotter’s squad after victories over Ireland and Wales.
Victory over Eddie Jones’ record-chasing Red Rose outfit is now the Scots’ main aim as they look to keep themselves on track for a surprise RBS Six Nations crown.
It is 34 years since a Dark Blues team last managed that feat in London, but Hogg insists no-one should be startled if Scotland emerge victorious from the Triple Crown decider.
Asked if an away win should be considered a shock this weekend, he said: “No, we’re more than capable of winning and we’re going to do everything we can to make that happen.
“We talked a lot about our goals before the Six Nations and it’s now about making those goals a reality. We’re very much in a position to come down here and win – and nothing is going to stand in our way.
“We’re very much a work in progress, but since Vern came in we’ve come on leaps and bounds. We’re not just going to lie down and get our bellies tickled, we’re going to go out and try to get some victories.
“Slowly but surely we’re starting to get respect. Do other teams still underestimate us? Yeah, possibly, but that’s up to them.”
Hogg delivered that message with serious intent, but he admits the lighter side of life in the Scotland camp has made this year’s Championship even more enjoyable.
“I have zero confidence while walking along the corridor now,” he confessed with a smile. “I’m always a bit worried that Barcs is going to jump out from nowhere.
“It’s been a challenging few weeks, but it seems to have had a few hits and gone viral.
“Trust me I’ve tried to get my revenge, but Barcs doesn’t scare very well. I’ve got his room-mate Ryan Wilson involved now, so here’s hoping before the end of the Six Nations I can get him.
“It shows the good spirit we’ve got in the camp. There’s always some good craic and the boys enjoy each other’s company. We’re having some fun.
“It’s can be quite tough trying to go to bed when Barcs pops out a cupboard, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
With three tries and an assist during the campaign so far, Hogg has proven himself to be the all-important spearhead to Scotland’s attack.
But he admits it will be his work going in the other direction which could prove decisive to Scottish hopes at Twickenham.
Although there are few full-backs north of the equator who can rival Hogg when he gets on the front foot, critics feel his defensive skills may cost him a shot at a starting spot with the British and Irish Lions.
“Defensively I know I’ll be challenged,” he said. “There will be high balls. George Ford or Owen Farrell or Mike Brown will stick them on me.
“I’m fully aware of what’s coming. But it’s just about being mature in the situation and dealing with it. I’m sitting here shaking, I just can’t wait to get out there to play.
“No-one is the complete player, there are always going to be weaknesses to your game. Yeah, you could say defence is one of mine.
“When things are going well there is always going to be someone to put you down. I’m fully aware that my defence isn’t the strongest, but I’ll continue to work on it.”
England hope to equal the All Blacks’ Test record of 18 straight wins this weekend, but Hogg is not worried that Scotland’s bid for a first Championship triumph since 1999 may be let down by their relative lack of experience when it comes to seeing out results.
“I think it helps we have won the PRO12 title with Glasgow,” said the Warriors back.
“Before that we were in three semi-finals before winning the trophy. A lot of the guys in this team are aware of what it takes to win trophies.
“We have had that taste of success and it was amazing but now it is about getting our hands on the next trophy.”