Morning Chronicle - Scotland captain Hogg no longer fears England

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Scotland captain Hogg no longer fears England
Scotland captain Hogg no longer fears England

Scotland captain Hogg no longer fears England

Scotland captain Stuart Hogg heads into Saturday's Calcutta Cup clash adamant that playing old rivals England is no longer the "scary" task of years gone by.

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When the full-back made his Test debut a decade ago, England were on their way to a 10-match unbeaten run against Scotland.

But the pattern in recent editions of rugby union's oldest international fixture -- the teams first met in 1871 -- has been very different.

Scotland have lost just once in four matches and ended a 38-year-wait for a win at Twickenham in last year's meeting.

"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't sometimes worried about playing England, especially in the early years," Hogg told reporters on Friday.

"For me being a 'rugby pig' growing up, some of the names you used to play against for England, it was quite a scary task.

"Not now. I truly believe in the ability of myself and the ability of the squad that we can go out there and win, and it has shown over the last four years or so."

Hogg, who now plays his club rugby in England for Exeter, added: "We view England as the same as every other team.

"We respect them highly, individually and collectively, they are one of the best sides in world rugby. But we know we can compete with them."

One man who has been central to Scotland's rise is fly-half Finn Russell.

While Russell will take account of the conditions on Saturday if they are as wet and windy as forecast, Hogg insisted the star is unlikely to be overwhelmed by the weather.

"Finn Russell is up there with the best 10s in the world because he understands the game incredibly well, and I think half the time he doesn't know what he’s doing," Hogg said.

"So if he doesn't know what he's doing, then everybody else has no bloody clue.

"I'm sure England will have a strategy to try and keep him quiet, but I'm sure he'll find ways to have a big impact on the game. Hopefully tomorrow he's on song."

England defence coach Anthony Seibold is well aware of the challenge facing his side, saying: "Finn's a super talented player.

"How do you take away his weapons? He wants time and space so he can ball play and use his really effective kicking game, both short and long, so you need to take away time and space.

"That's easier said than done of course."

England also have a gifted fly-half in Marcus Smith, but the 22-year-old is only five caps into a promising international career that continues with his Six Nations debut on Saturday.

"Marcus has been outstanding. One of the things that I've been super-impressed with is his work ethic," said Seibold.

"He's a good young bloke and I think we need to give him the time and space to have an impact."