Scotland prop Rory Sutherland is champing at the bit to get the 2021 Guinness Six Nations underway this weekend and believes his side have what it takes to cause an upset against reigning champions England at Twickenham.
After a promising 2020 campaign in which Scotland conceded just 59 points – the lowest of any team – Sutherland and his compatriots will be full of confidence heading into this Saturday’s curtain-raiser, as they look to build on last year’s fourth placed-finish.
With Gregor Townsend putting together an exciting, dynamic side, including the likes of Finn Russell, Duhan van der Merwe and Stuart Hogg, the visitors will fancy their chances of regaining the Calcutta Cup in south-west London.
And despite the Red Rose losing just once in their last nine Test matches, Sutherland believes if his side stick to their game plan, they will emerge victorious.
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“England have won the last Six Nations and they’ve got an Autumn Nations Cup there as well, so we’ll be going down there with a lot of respect,” Sutherland said.
“But it’s a new campaign. It is a great feeling to be back in camp and everyone is really looking forward to it and getting ready to get back into the game.
“We’re coming in and preparing as we would any match, looking at England and all different aspects of their game – their attack, their defence.
“We’ll prepare for it as well as we can this week and do the best we can to go and do a job on them.”
Both sides will be without a number of key players for the Round 1 clash this weekend, with Scotland missing Fraser Brown and Stuart McInally at hooker, while England will be without important members of their pack.
Sam Underhill and Joe Launchbury have both been replaced in Eddie Jones’ squad due to injury, while Joe Marler has withdrawn due to personal issues, leaving the England boss to turn to a number of younger stars such as Wasps’ Tom West.
This Saturday will be the 150th anniversary of the very first England v Scotland match, in 1871, and it will have to go some to surpass the drama of the last time the teams met at Twickenham in 2019 – when one of the all-time great Guinness Six Nations affairs ended in a 38-38 draw.
And although Saturday’s encounter won’t have 80,000 raucous fans in attendance, Sutherland is confident Scotland can create their own momentum during the 80 minutes.
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“In these times it is all about creating your own atmosphere, creating a buzz yourself as a team. You need to go there and bring your own energy. We need to do that when we go down,” the 28-year-old said.
“(It is a chance) for us to be able to lift the nation. We’re going through really tough times at the moment and we’re taking all the precautions we can to make sure we get through and come out the other side doing really well.
“It’s extremely special and really special for me, just being back involved in the Scottish team in the past year or so. Getting a few starts last year was really nice.
“To be involved again for this match is very special to me and I’m really looking forward to it.”