Rugby

Scotland eye Six Nations title

2016-01-20 09:41
Vern Cotter

London - Scotland may have finished bottom of last year's Six Nations but that has not stopped coach Vern Cotter from telling his players to believe they can win this season's title.

The 2015 Six Nations saw Scotland finish with the wooden spoon after losing all five of their matches in the Championship, but they gave a heartening display during the subsequent World Cup where only a late penalty decision saw them denied a quarter-final win over Australia.

New Zealander Cotter was coy when asked where Scotland, who open their Six Nations campaign against arch-rivals England in Edinburgh on February 6, would finish this time around, but suggested aiming high would serve them well.

"I think it's important that we believe that we can compete for the title," Cotter said after naming a 35-man squad for the Championship on Tuesday.

"The World Cup is behind us now and we want to move forward and get better," he added.

"There were some good things from the World Cup but now it's about taking the next step.

"We weren't totally happy with the World Cup. People said it was good and it was good, it was a great time. Shared experiences are important for teams and we have been through some good times and some tough times.

"But those tough times will give us a harder edge for this Six Nations.

"It will be what it will be but we are going to have a real go. We will see how things pan out."

The bulk of Scotland's squad were involved at the World Cup but one absentee was Ryan Wilson.

The Glasgow flanker faces a potentially lengthy ban after being cited for allegedly grabbing the testicles of Northampton scrum-half Lee Dickson last weekend.

However, Cotter was adamant Wilson - who was banned last year by the Scottish Rugby Union after his part in a chip-shop brawl - had been omitted on form alone.

"We made a decision about Ryan before he was cited," said Cotter. "He has been improving but we feel that other players are playing better than he is at the moment.

"He will go through a hearing process but could come into contention as the competition goes on.

"I have no idea if he will be available. It seems to me he was reaching for a pair of shorts."

One of Scotland's best performers at the World Cup was Mark Bennett but the Glasgow centre is now waiting to find out if the shoulder injury he suffered against French club Racing 92 last weekend will end his season.

Even so, Cotter included Bennett in his squad and said the injury may not be as severe as first thought.

"Mark's injury seems better than when it was first announced," said Cotter. "We were talking six weeks to two months when it was first announced.

"But he maybe could now be available for the first game, so fingers crossed."

Read more on:    scotland  |  six nations  |  vern cotter  |  rugby
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