Hogg - Captaincy won't change the way I play
Scotland full-back Stuart Hogg insists the added expectation of captaincy won’t change the swashbuckling style that has endeared him to fans of the sport worldwide.
Townsend called on the 72-times capped Hawick man to lead the national team into the 2020 Guinness Six Nations, taking on the mantle from close friend and scrum-half Greig Laidlaw, who led Scotland against Japan the side’s final Test of Rugby World Cup 2019 and hooker Stuart McInally, the squad skipper for the tournament.
The two-time British & Irish Lion is a famously proud Scotsman and Borderer but explained picking the time to push the patriotic buttons can prove vital in getting the most out of the group.
Hogg said: “I feel very honoured to lead this team.
“We’ve got a fantastic group of young players coming through and there’s a lot of experience in there as well. I’m really looking forward to it and taking on the challenges that are coming our way.
“There’s a time to bring passion and calmness when things are going well and when things aren’t going quite so well. Momentum shifts are massive in rugby.
“Yes, passion is important but there’s a time and place. I want the players to be emotional about the games, have a sense of pride in putting on the jersey and use that in the right way so it comes out in how we defend and how we attack." Scotland captain Stuart Hogg
Seasoned Scotland players John Barclay, Tommy Seymour and Greig Laidlaw all called time on their Test careers last month, with the responsibility to shore up the supporting leadership group falling to the next group of players charged with maintaining standards and influencing decision-making behind the scenes.
“It won’t just be down to me. It’ll be down to us all,” added Hogg.
“I think Finn Russell has really stood up as a leader in the way he, first and foremost, plays but also the way he drives standards during the week. He drives our attack and is a huge influence in that area.
“Rambo [Stuart McInally] and Fraz [Fraser Brown] up front – two players who have a lot of experience and are right in the brunt of everything that happens – and those younger players coming through, Jamie Ritchie for one, will all contribute.
“We’re a collective unit. Our motto of ‘As One’ is not just the team, it’s absolutely everything involved with Scottish rugby.
“We want the fans to look at us and be happy with what they’re seeing and see a bit of them in the way we’re playing.
“That comes down to regular meetings, high standards and the enjoyment in the opportunity. That’s when we’re at our best, when we’ve smile on our faces and we’re expressing ourselves.”
Hogg has led Scotland once before – the narrow loss to USA (30-29) in Houston in the 2018 summer tour. However, despite the frustration in defeat, his memory isn’t soured by the experienced.
“I loved the build-up to that game.
“I felt there was huge amount of confidence put in me to be captain and I feel that way now with the backing I’ve received from Gregor [Townsend] and the coaches.
“All I wanted as a kid was to grow up and play for Scotland and I feel very fortunate that I get to do that.