Blair - Plans unchanged despite uncharacteristic Irish defeat
Assistant Coach Mike Blair insists that Scotland’s plans to face Ireland in the second round of the Guinness Six Nations are unchanged in the face of the visitor's uncharacteristic opening round defeat to England in Dublin last weekend.
England left the Aviva with a bonus-point-securing 32-20 victory however – such has been Ireland's consistency in performance in seasons past – the reigning Six Nations champions are set to retain their hard-earned second-top spot in the World Rugby rankings.
Blair explained it is through this lens, and not necessarilty the picture painted at the weekend, that this Saturday's opponents will continue to be viewed.
He said: “Ireland are a quality team, one of the top teams in the world, and they’re going to look forward to coming and playing us.
“Head Coach Joe Schmidt is an incredibly intelligent coach, along with Andy Farrell as well, so we expect a big showing from them, and not just because they lost that game.
“It would be something we’d be expecting anyway. We know we have to be right at the top of our game to give them a good game.”
Blair added that the Scots have some reflections of their own to contend with in the early part of championship week two, having carved out a 33-3 lead in the opening 60 minutes against Italy only to concede 17 points to end the match at 33-20.
He added: “It’s always a pretty thorough review process we go through and there were definitely some things we were really pleased with, and some things to work on as well.
“It’s a short week, with guys coming in just on the Monday morning, so it’s important that we merge the review of the Italian game into the preview for the Ireland game.
“We were 33-3 up before sixty minutes, so we’re really positive about that, but that last fifteen minutes, we had the yellow card, they got a lot of possession, and I think for us it hits home that if you don’t get things right then teams will expose you.
“We’ve got a very hard-working coaching team and he’ll look hard into everything and look at different strategies.
“Obviously, there have been a few soft tries but there’s nothing wrong with the system it’s just guys making sure that they’re ready and making those smart decisions under pressure.
“The guys love playing at BT Murrayfield and the players know that the supporters want to come out and support them, so in turn we want to put a great performance on the pitch and get a lot of noise and support from them.”