Scotland coach Gregor Townsend insisted lessons had been learned from last year’s opening weekend horror show in Wales as they look to get the 2019 Guinness Six Nations off to a flier at home to Italy a week on Saturday.
The Scots entered last year’s tournament with high hopes, but were blown away by Warren Gatland’s side 34-7 and Townsend is confident that a more positive start can be achieved.
The coach said: “That game showed us the Six Nations is tougher than the November Tests and the quality of opposition we are facing is very high. When you see the world rankings we are facing some of the best teams in the world in this Six Nations.”
Scotland bounced back from the Cardiff rout with three wins in the competition, at home to France and England and away to this year’s first-up opponents Italy.
“What we also learned was the resilience of our team to come back and in our next two games last year we won against two very good sides in France and England,” continued Townsend. “Our players quickly bounced back to perform much better in the following weeks.”
Townsend also conceded that his decision 12 months ago to take his squad down on the eve of the match had backfired.
“A little,” he said. “We obviously hadn’t had a great away record travelling two days before. There’s things you can do more coaching wise when you travel the day before because you have longer at your venue for longer.
“The habit the players have with their clubs is to travel the day before. This year we are tweaking our weeks and travelling two days before and allowing the players to be a bit fresher for game day.”
Laidlaw, who replaced Ali Price off the bench in Cardiff last year and reclaimed the scrum-half starting jersey, admitted that the players had possibly bought into the hype from a successful 2017 November Test series.
“We had a lot of confidence surrounding the squad,” said the Clermont Auvergne man. “That display against Wales shows it counts for nothing unless you deliver. The ultimate goal of this team is to win our first game this year and then we start building on the top of that.”