Scotland will not be spooked by the ghosts of disappointments past as they set out to prove they are future NatWest 6 Nations contenders, forward Ryan Wilson has declared.
Gregor Townsend’s men kick-off their Championship bid away to Wales on Saturday but they will have to re-write 16 years of failure in the Principality if they are to open with a win.
The Scots’ last Cardiff triumph was in 2002 but Glasgow back-rower Wilson insists those kind of horror stories do not faze the current crop now causing a stir for the Dark Blues.
Home-and-away wins over Australia last year – plus their daring November display against New Zealand as they took the world champions to the brink – suggest Scotland could now rival England and Ireland for the title.
Wilson knows, though, that remains a major challenge but he is certain his team will not be deterred by the let-downs of yesteryear.
“Winning in Cardiff has not been done for a while – since 2002 – so it’s a significant thing but we’ve got confidence,” said the Warriors captain. “It’s a huge start and we have to make sure we go down there and do it.
“I can’t imagine anyone will be thinking we’ve not won down there before. It’ll be focusing on ourselves that we can go down and do a job.
“Forget about all that stuff from years ago, we’re just trying to focus on the now.”
It is not so long ago that Scotland’s very participation in the Six Nations was being questioned by critics from south of the border who claimed they were no longer up to championship standard.
Wilson, though, has witnessed first-hand the progress that now sees them tipped as dark horses for what would be a first title win since 1999.
He said: “We were always that team that nearly did it. Then we started getting results where we’d grind them out. Now we’ve become a team that’s doing better.
“The All Blacks game was different. We should have won that match but we’re not a team that’s thinking ‘oh, we lost but we did well’ – we’re a team thinking ‘we’ll win this game’ and we’re starting to do that.”
Warren Gatland has been forced to name a Scarlets-dominated Wales line-up for Saturday’s showdown having lost a list of big-hitters to injury.
The Scots have their own fitness problems with seven front-rowers unavailable but Wilson has backed the understudies to shine in the limelight.
“We’ve got some front-rows who I really rate,” he said. “John Welsh has been doing a brilliant job down at Newcastle, so has Scott Lawson.
“Guys like that are coming in hungry – they’ve not had a shot at international rugby for a few years and you can see them thinking now they are not going to mess this one up.”