Scotland have named an unchanged team and bench for their Rugby World Cup quarter-final against Argentina in Paris on Sunday night.
And the challenge coach Frank Hadden has laid down to his players is to write their names into Scottish Rugby’s rich history.
Hadden said: “The pressure of this occasion - a Rugby World Cup quarter-final - could be so massive. I was delighted with the way the players dealt with the massive pressure against Italy. For me last weekend was about respectability. Sunday is about a place in the history books.
“What we achieved in St Etienne six days ago is not to be sniffed at. Scotland have not always had that respect, yet no-one can take away from us that we are one of only five countries to have qualified for the knockout stages of every World Cup.
The coach stressed that there was again considerable discussion on the selection for the encounter with the Pumas but acknowledged that the timing of the competition at the start of the Northern Hemisphere season made it harder for players who have had few opportunities to force the coaches’ hand.
He added: “We now have a group of players who have played five matches in seven weeks. I believe the team are coming together and that they are superbly supported by a group of guys who are just champing at the bit and determined to take any opportunity should one arise.”
The players are acutely aware of the magnitude of Sunday’s game at the Stade de France but the mood within the camp remains relaxed.
Prop Gavin Kerr missed the last World Cup quarter final in Australia in 2003 having been injured in the pool stages. He said: “It’s been a big thing for me to be involved this time round in my second World Cup and I’m excited about the challenge ahead having missed our quarter-final four years ago.
“It will be another tough test for us, as fr as the front five are concerned. They are a similar pack to the Italians so we’ll face another hard battle up front and will have to work really hard to provide a platform for the backs to play off."
“We knew the Italy game was going to be tough and we were pleased at how the front five scrummaged and with the job we did. This is going to be a different challenge as the Argentinian team has played together for a while now and has therefore a lot of experience of working together.
“It has taken a bit of pressure off being in the quarter final and so we have a chance to enjoy playing a bit of rugby and hopefully getting to the next stages.”
Simon Webster is the only member of the squad to have played a full eighty minutes in every pool match this autumn, and is set to make his fifth start of the tournament. He said: “I’ve really enjoyed all the games even though Italy was such a pressure cooker kind of affair. I’m really thankful for all the game time I’ve had and just glad to have played every minute.
“We’ve had a good week between the games and I’m well looked after as far as recovery is concerned. Even last week, when I’d been a bit unwell, the adrenaline kicks in and you can’t help felling fresh and raring to go. It’ll be the same on Sunday night.
“I was looking back on things this week and thought, if we hadn’t reached the quarter finals, we would have let ourselves down, especially when Scotland have been in the knockout stages of every World Cup so far - we would have been the ones who failed. So now we’re here, I feel a sense of achievement but also a sense of relief that the tricky bit is over, and the next game will be more enjoyable.”
Nathan Hines remembers well Scotland’s quarter final match against the host nation Australia in Brisbane four years ago. He said: “We played well in our last quarter final so it was enjoyable. It was only that Australia scored two tries that they didn’t really have to work very hard for which meant we went out.
“It’s good playing in the quarters. You’re still under pressure but it’s a different kind of pressure. During the pool stages, you’re just trying to get through, and then the emphasis is on performing well and getting even further.
“It will be pretty tough on Sunday. Argentina are on the up and playing with confidence not having lost a game so far this tournament, although it would still be difficult if they weren’t so good. Their contact will be hard and we can’t have any lapse in concentration at the breakdown.
“I’m really looking forward to the game as they just beat us last time we played in November 2005. They are now two years better, more experienced and that’s part of the challenge for us this time round.”
Stade de France, Paris on Sunday 7 October, kick-off 9pm local time (8pm BST)
15 Rory Lamont (Sale Sharks)
14 Sean Lamont (Northampton Saints)
13 Simon Webster (Edinburgh)
12 Rob Dewey (Ulster)
11 Chris Paterson (Gloucester)
10 Dan Parks (Glasgow Warriors)
9 Mike Blair (Edinburgh)*
1 Gavin Kerr (Edinburgh)
2 Ross Ford (Glasgow Warriors)*
3 Euan Murray (Northampton Saints)
4 Nathan Hines (Perpignan)
5 Jim Hamilton (Leicester Tigers)
6 Jason White (Sale Sharks) CAPTAIN
8 Simon Taylor (Stade Francais)*
7 Allister Hogg (Edinburgh)*
16 Scott Lawson (Sale Sharks)*
17 Craig Smith (Edinburgh)
18 Scott MacLeod (Llanelli Scarlets)
19 Kelly Brown (Glasgow Warriors)*
20 Chris Cusiter (Perpignan)*
21 Andrew Henderson (Glasgow Warriors)
22 Hugo Southwell (Edinburgh)
* = Member of Scottish Institute of Sport
Referee: Joel Jutge (France). Touch-judges: Chris White (England) and Stuart Dickinson (Australia). TMO: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa).