The Scotland lock Scott Murray insists a good performance is more important than winning when they take on Wales in Cardiff in their Six Nations opener tomorrow.
After an indifferent World Cup, the Scots hope to rebuild their confidence under the coach Matt Williams, who takes charge for the first time. Williams has surprised many with his bold selection policy, and Murray is cautious about raising expectations.
"It's massively important that we got off to a good start and I'd like to say a winning start but it's going to be difficult," Murray said. "So although we're looking to win, our main priority is to play well and get the team gelling together."
Iestyn Harris believes Wales could emerge as Six Nations title contenders this season, 12 months after they collected the wooden spoon. "We are in a situation now that we are playing some good rugby but we have to concentrate on our own game," the centre said. "If that makes us contenders at the end then it would be fantastic. But we have to forget about everyone else and just think about Scotland."
The Ireland centre Gordon D'Arcy is thrilled at the prospect of realising his childhood dream on Saturday despite being handed one of the toughest jobs around. The Leinster centre will make his full debut against France but his delight will have been tempered by the challenge of filling the shoes of Brian O'Driscoll, who has failed to recover from his hamstring injury.
"A starting place in the Ireland team is everything I've worked for," D'Arcy said. "I couldn't care less what position it is, as long as I play. It's a great compliment from [the coach] Eddie O'Sullivan that he has the confidence in me to replace the best centre in the world. There are similarities between Brian and I: we're the same size and same build and we're both good broken field runners."
D'Arcy, who played hooker until he was 15, admits he will relish his midfield duties. "I'm looking forward to the match and playing centre. Your mind doesn't have time to wander when you're at centre. You have to concentrate the whole time, which suits me. I like the fact that I get more ball and have a chance to run at people. I've spoken to Brian. He told me to be patient and it will come. It's hard for him that he can't play - it's a bitter pill to swallow, having to watch the game. But he's been very helpful since I found out I was playing."
* Northampton's Mark Connors will attend a Rugby Football Union disciplinary hearing next Tuesday night in Coventry, charged with punching Rotherham's Colin Noon in a Premiership match on 7 February.Reuse content