Greig Laidlaw, Paris Bound

You’re at home. You’re packing. You’ve got a big game on Friday. You’re thinking about your team going into the game against Racing, but you’re trying not to think about the game. The TV’s on in the background but you’re not sure what rubbish is on. Did you put in enough socks? You’re always looking for something and forget what it is halfway between rooms. Don’t stuff it all in. The phone’s going.

Neutral tone. Job at hand. You’re being asked about whether you feel the pressure of scoring tries. Answer. Be honest.

“No”.

Good start Greig. Go on.

“The pressure is on us to win and if we win then we are in a good position. If we focus too much on tries then we might lose sight of the bigger picture.

“When the attack is right we do well and Edinburgh have to play the way Edinburgh play. We have loads of confidence in our play, not just because we beat them last time. Attack won’t be the issue. In the last game attack wasn’t the issue. We leaked 47 points. We will have to be right defensively”.

Nicely done. Ignore the house phone going in the background. Next job.

“Of course we respect Racing after that game. But not just certain players, we respect the whole team. They’ve got a lot of World Class guys. Look at Chabal. Look at Hernandez. Francois Steyn might even be in the mix this weekend.

“We need to perform against them. You’re right, we played poorly against Ulster and we lost. We lost like that because of performance, and if we go into Friday’s game against Racing with the same frame of mind  we will come out with the same result.

“We will also have to play rugby. If we head there and try to grind out a win then we won’t get that performance, and we won’t play like Edinburgh play. Yeah, I’m confident,” –why is he asking about me? It’s about the team, get him back onto the team – “but it’s about getting the consistency level. We were poor last Friday night. We need a big performance. We really need to get this one. Cardiff will do what Cardiff do. It’s this one”.

Pause. “Oh definitely.” Ah. A different way of asking about you. “You’ve always got a point to prove when you play. Yes I was disappointed not to be involved with Scotland in the World Cup and I want to play for Scotland. I have big ambition”.

The pace is picking up here. Would you rather play 9 or 10? Was that a laugh?

“Yeah. Stick a number on my back and if I’m the best in that position I’ll play.”

A flash of navy blue. You think about it. It isn’t just about you, though. You know you are leading other people and you represent Edinburgh rugby. Maybe sometimes you should promote yourself a bit more, but that isn’t even a thought for you normally. That’s why you’re a good leader. You calm a bit. It’s not time to think of 6 Nations, just like it’s not time to play Racing. Not yet. There’s a day of travelling as of tomorrow. You push Friday’s first kick to the back of your mind, alongside the thoughts of Scotland. There, but blurry. Like the TV. Like the match day pants in your eyeline.

“Are the likes of Lee Jones and David Denton expected to raise their performance after being selected for the Scotland squad? I don’t think they can- they’ve been playing well all season.

“Lee Jones has been frustrated in the last couple of weeks because we haven’t been going to him and he hasn’t been getting the ball in his hands. But he is dangerous. He can cause Racing problems and we will be looking to use him as much as we can on Friday.

“As for Denton: he has been magnificent for us. He will be up for it and I know he’ll want to be taking on their back-row…”

You’re done. You’ve conveyed a little of what you want achieved on Friday, but not too much. You want to win, and he definitely knows that from listening to you. Maybe he wanted to know more about how significant this game was in terms of the whole season but he never asked in the end. You even said goodbye the way you planned.

You’d love to kick it like that agai-

No, no, no. Next job.

What the hell where you looking for, again…?

Here’s the team to face Racing Metro ’92:

15 Chris Paterson

14 Lee Jones
13 Nick De Luca
12 Matt Scott
11 Tim Visser

10 Greig Laidlaw CAPTAIN
9 Mike Blair

1 Allan Jacobsen
2 Ross Ford
3 Geoff Cross
4 Grant Gilchrist
5 Sean Cox
6 David Denton
7 Ross Rennie
8 Netani Talei

Substitutes
16 Alun Walker
17 Kyle Traynor
18 Jack Gilding
19 Esteban Lozada
20 Roddy Grant
21 Phil Godman
22 Tom Brown
23 Jim Thompson

Image courtesy of PA and Edinburgh Rugby.

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Dundonian Alan has played rugby all over the world for various teams including Dundee High School, Heriot's and the Scottish Club International. Now writing from London he covers all issues international and unreported.

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