Playing expansive rugby and having fun are two priorities high on Stuart Hogg’s to-do list for Scotland in his new role as captain for the 2020 Guinness Six Nations.
The 27-year-old Exeter Chiefs full-back replaces Stuart McInally as the skipper for this year’s Championship, as Scotland attempt to improve on last year’s fifth-place finish, and joined his coach Gregor Townsend at Tobacco Dock in east London for the 2020 Guinness Six Nations official launch on Wednesday.
Hogg previously captained his country once before in a loss to the USA in 2018 but with 72 caps to his name, he is the most experienced member of Townsend’s 38-man squad.
Scotland fixtures for the 2020 Guinness Six Nations
And with six uncapped players selected for Scotland for this year’s Guinness Six Nations, Hogg insisted he wants to see his side play with freedom and enjoy themselves.
“I’m very much looking to my role as captain, it’s a huge honour to lead this team and I take huge confidence from Gregor to pick me in this role,” said Hogg.
“For me, I’m just looking to do my job. I want to express myself, have some fun and make sure every player we have got within the squad plays to their full potential.
“I want everyone to play with confidence, we are an ambitious side and we want to play wide expansive rugby, we want to play quick rugby and make sure everyone is having fun.
“The culture we have created, the boys are welcomed with open arms. They are there for a reason, they are good enough to be international rugby players, they are on form.
“They are bringing a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the camp. That’s what we love to see and there is a lot of learning to be done and that’s on everybody.
“We are trying to coach these younger boys through but the good thing is they are asking questions at the right time and they are willing to learn. They are here for a reason.
“I’m excited to see how good they can be during the Six Nations.”
Scotland begin their 2020 Guinness Six Nations campaign with a daunting trip to Dublin to face Ireland at the Aviva Stadium for the first of their three away encounters.
Townsend’s men were defeated 28-8 on their last Championship visit to Ireland but the Scotland head coach has called on his players to learn from their previous experiences.
“We all feel very privileged to be involved and represent our country in the biggest annual rugby Championship so you always want to give your best,” Townsend said.
“Ireland have lost one home game in the Championship in the last five years so that just shows you have difficult it is to win away from home – Dublin, Twickenham, Cardiff, Paris, Rome.
“Even our record at BT Murrayfield in Scotland over the last few years, you have to be at your very best to win away, you have to stay in the fight, you can’t give the opposition easy points.
“You can’t let the crowd get more energised, the home crowd will bring more noise, more energy and the home team feeds off that – and we need to be better, we know that.
“We start with an away game this year and even though it’s a tough challenge, it’s the best preparation for us to see where we we are, see if we have learned over the last few years.”