Laidlaw looking for reaction

Greig Laidlaw admits his place could be under threat following Scotland's 22-19 defeat against Italy
Greig Laidlaw admits his place could be under threat following Scotland's 22-19 defeat against Italy

Scotland skipper Greig Laidlaw has admitted even his spot in the team is not safe following the Dark Blues' disaster against Italy.

Vern Cotter's side were humiliated at home when they allowed the Azzurri to snatch a 22-19 win at Murrayfield last month.

The visitors' victory means the Scots head to Twickenham - a venue where they have not won since 1983 - to face England this Saturday on the back of three straight RBS 6 Nations defeats.

It was not the start to the Championships Laidlaw was looking for with the World Cup to come later this year.

And now the scrum-half admits that nobody in Cotter's camp - not even he as captain - can take their place for granted.

The Gloucester half-back said: " It's been a tough week. The coaches got stuck into us after the Italy match and rightly so. There needs to be a reaction this weekend against England and that's what we are focused on.

" There is always competition for places. I've been developing my relationship with Vern and what he and the coaches are looking for.

"The first few games I was happy with my performances but I don't think anyone was happy with last weekend.

"Changes always happen and competition for places is good. You can never rest on your laurels."

Matt Taylor, one of Cotter's right-hand men, admitted on Monday that the Scots' attitude had not been right for the visit of the Italians.

But Laidlaw denied the shock defeat - their seventh to Italy since the Azzurri were welcomed into the tournament in 2000 - was a result of complacency in the Dark Blue ranks.

"There is never complacency," he said. "But for whatever reason we were just a bit sluggish.

"Maybe the boys were just a bit off. We were off in the collisions and never got a good hold in defence. We then had to be soft in defence and if you do that you suck up energy and their forwards got on top with the driving maul.

"Once that starts happening our forwards' legs began to sap and you will struggle to win games of rugby from there."

The bad news for Scotland is the English will certainly follow the lead set by France, Wales and the Italians so far this tournament by basing their tactics around the driven maul.

But then again, according to Stuart Hogg the Auld Enemy have little respect for Scottish rugby, so maybe they will not even bother doing their homework on their weekend opponents.

Laidlaw did not risk contradicting his full-back when asked about Hogg's comments, but he did try to play down the row.

He said: "Hoggy is a passionate bloke and wears his heart on his sleeve. That is good in a sense from where I sit. I want to see him saying what he believes in.

"But I've captained Gloucester this season already and that speaks for itself."

Just one of Laidlaw's 37 caps have been earned in the English capital.

His uncle Roy Laidlaw was a member of the last Scottish side to taste victory at Twickenham with a 22-12 triumph 32 years ago.

But he does not believe there are many lessons to be learned from his relative's old war tales from a bygone amateur era,

"It's a different game now, my uncle will admit that himself," said Laidlaw. "Those players had their own bit of history back in their time but it's gone now.

"My uncle is always good for advice but as a group of players to step up to the plate, it's a completely different game to how it was then.

"There are two games left in the Championship and we will be playing for our jersey, for our country and our positions.

"We let each other down the last time we wore it and this time we need to make sure that doesn't happen.

"But the game this week speaks for itself - we don't need any extra motivation.

"I got a bit of stick when I went back down to Gloucester last week, so I would certainly like to walk back into the dressing room with the Calcutta Cup and give some back."