Logan confident of Scottish victory
March 9, 2010
Dan Parks could be key to Scotland's hopes at Murrayfield © Getty Images
Scotland's Six Nations campaign has been one of missed chances. The opening round saw defeat to Grand Slam-chasing France, the second witnessed Wales' Millennium miracle derail the best Scottish performance in a number of seasons.
Then there was Italy. Scotland's latest trip to Rome brought another defeat to the fired-up Azzurri and set alarm bells ringing for the remainder of the tournament, which continues with the always eventful visit of England to Murrayfield this weekend.
The 127th edition of one of sport's most celebrated rivalries pits two sides low on confidence against each other. Scotland's coach, Andy Robinson, goes head-to-head with England four years after being shown the door at Twickenham, and according to former Scotland wing Kenny Logan, there is nothing to fear for the home side.
"The pressure is all on England, not on Scotland," he told ESPNscrum. "We've turned a corner. Apart from the Italy game; we played well against France, played well against Wales and would have won that game if not for certain decisions and a number of injuries. I think we can beat them, I really do. I've got a lot of confidence in the squad and a lot of confidence in the coaching. We're narrowing the gap and that's what we've got to do.
"With Italy we didn't go at them like we did Wales. We went right at Wales, we two-man tackled them, there was aggression. We were on the front-foot constantly. Italy won the battle, we weren't on the front-foot, and they were always on the front-foot. That's what we need against England, that defence we had against Australia, smashing them back. When you start smashing England back, god they look average, they look like a team that doesn't know what they're doing."
Scotland's performance in Cardiff was one of poise and power, something that is yet to materialise from England despite their opening victories over Wales and Italy. Much of the blame has fallen on the shoulders of the once untouchable Jonny Wilkinson, who will this weekend go up against the in-form Dan Parks.
Parks, cast into the international wilderness in 2008, has returned to the Scotland side with back-to-back Man-of-the-Match awards but has also survived years of questions about his temperament at Test level. Logan sees the battle between the two fly-halves as crucial, especially if the English backline produces more one-dimensional support play.
"Jonny is obviously a world-class player and it's taken Parks to get to his 50th cap to get that kind of consistency," he said. "He's playing somewhere that he knows well and his kicking's good. If we get on the front-foot, he'll dominate. The criticism Jonny has been getting is a lot to do with the players around him not playing well, not giving him options and expecting him to do everything. He needs other players to run lines and give him options; they're not there at the moment."
Too often in the past there has been a reliance on a media frenzy whipping up the Murrayfield crowd in anticipation of England's arrival, and Logan believes that there will be no need for outdated vitriol this weekend.
"I think the line's been under it for a while," he said. "The last two times they've had them at Murrayfield they've beat them, they know they can beat them. This is not as good an England team as they've beaten in the past."
Just For Kicks by Kenny Logan is published in paperback on March 18
Huw Baines is the Assistant Editor of ESPNscrum.