Richie Gray insists in-form Scotland must not allow themselves to be spooked by the magnitude of their Guinness Six Nations match in France if they are serious about competing for the title.
After bonus-point wins in their opening two matches against England and Wales, the Scots know victory at Stade de France on Sunday will leave them in prime position heading into their final two games at home to Ireland and Italy in March.
Veteran Glasgow Warriors lock Gray admits it is imperative that he and his colleagues do not allow themselves to get caught up in the hype and become inhibited by the occasion.
“Really excited, it is a huge stage,” said Gray as he faced the media following the team run in Paris on Saturday. “Playing in the Stade de France is always a privilege and there is a lot on the line in the championship.
“There is a real positive feeling in the camp. The boys can’t wait to get out on the field again and show what we have got.
“We know how big the game is but there is a danger of hyping it up too much potentially and playing within ourselves.
“We know it is a big occasion in terms of the championship but we are looking to go out there and play with smiles on our faces and try to play to our potential.”
Scotland have won in Paris only three times since 1969, although they are buoyed by their current form as well as memories of their last visit to Stade de France when they claimed a rare victory behind closed doors two years ago.
Gray, preparing to win his 72nd cap this weekend, admits he cannot recall Scotland arriving in the French capital with such optimism.
“Yeah, we’ve certainly got an internal belief,” he said. “I think it’s always been there in the last couple of years but thankfully now that’s been able to transfer onto the pitch, certainly in the first couple of games.
“But this is a massive challenge and we’re under no illusions about how big a game this is and how difficult a challenge it will be, so let’s see where we’re at on Sunday after the final whistle.”
Gray moved to temper any suggestion that the Scots are dreaming of glory by reminding his audience that the nation is renowned for sporting hard-luck stories.
“We have all been involved in Scottish sport for a long time,” smiled the 33-year-old. “So let’s just take it one game at a time. It is a big game tomorrow and we look forward to it and everybody at home is looking forward to it.
“We are going up against a very good French side that is second in the world at the moment and won the tournament last year. This is their first game at home so all the crowd will be behind them. Technically they are a very good team and will have all their fans behind them. It will be a tough day, a very physical day, up front from a forwards point of view.”
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