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England have been warned that Scotland are heading to Twickenham on Six Nations title business – not purely to spoil a party.
Without an away win over the auld enemy since 1983, the Scots are seen by many as little more than a speed bump between Eddie Jones’ team and a world record-equalling 18th straight scalp.
But tartan greats Scott Hastings and Bryan Redpath told Mirror Sport that England underestimate Vern Cotter’s side at their peril.
On Monday Alan Tait claimed the chance to deny England a share of the record would provide “massive incentive” for the Scots boys.
But Hastings said: “No, no, no. It’s nothing to do with what the opposition can achieve. It’s all about Scotland and what they can do. I really believe that.
“This team realises that if they beat England they’ve got the championship to play for at home to Italy on Saturday week. They would be in with a huge chance.”
Former Scotland captain Redpath agreed, saying: “The Scottish team will be purely focused on trying to win the game.
“They won’t be thinking that victory would give them a first Triple Crown since 1990 – which it would – nor what a win could do for individuals’ Lions prospects.
“And I certainly can’t see a prime motivation being to deny England. That’s not Vern’s style. He knocked that way of thinking on the head a couple of years ago.
“I remember him saying, ‘Look we are not consistent. We’ve got to stop thinking beating England in a one-off game is enough to make a season. It’s not’.
“He’s moved Scotland away from that sort of stuff. He’s made them consistent and England will know if they don’t perform well they could lose this game.
“But England are a bloody good side and I don’t think we should be naive and think otherwise. Seeing them frustrated by Italy was probably the worst thing that could have happened to Scotland.”
Well, that and Billy Vunipola’s return to fitness. The big No.8 came through his fitness test at Newcastle on Sunday and scrum coach Neal Hatley confirmed yesterday that he will return to the squad for Scotland.
“He’s done enough to prove he should be involved,” said Hatley. “It’s fantastic to have him back.”
Vunipola has been a massive cog in England’s winning machine, but so too prop Dan Cole – the only player to start all 17 victories.
- England No8 Billy Vunipola hailed as world's best as he closes in on Six Nations return vs Scotland
“It’s nice to play for England any time,” said the Leicester star. “And it feels good to play consecutive games – especially off the back of what we came from.”
He means the 2015 World Cup which, happily for England, already seems a lifetime ago.
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