Scotland defence coach Steve Tandy paid tribute to “special player” Stuart Hogg as the Exeter full-back gets ready to win his 100th cap.
Hogg – who captained his country before being replaced in the role by Jamie Ritchie last year – is in line to hit the century landmark in Sunday’s high-stakes Six Nations showdown with Ireland at BT Murrayfield.
Tandy believes the 30-year-old’s longevity at international level is testament to his pride in playing for Scotland.
“In this day and age, with the amount of rugby these boys play, to have the motivation and energy he has to represent Scotland, he’s a special player and a special human being,” said Tandy.
“The pride he has for representing Scotland is brilliant to see. It’ll be a huge achievement for him and well deserved.
“He’s bringing bags of energy with the way he plays and there’s an excitement around him.
“I know people talk about Hoggy in attack and things, but the energy he brings in defence, the communication, the focus, it’s brilliant to have him part of this group.”
Scotland know a win over in-form Ireland will secure the Triple Crown and keep them in the hunt for the Six Nations title. Tandy feels there is plenty to be optimistic about.
“They’re the number one team in the world for a reason but we need to look at what we can bring to the game,” he said. “I think we’ve played really well in the first three games.
“We’ve shown lots of really positive attributes to our game. The boys are in a confident space and we’re excited to be at Murrayfield in front of a full house playing for a Triple Crown.”
Grant Gilchrist will play no part in the last two matches against Ireland and Italy after the lock learned on Monday he would face a three-week ban for the foul that led to his red card against France.
Scotland were disappointed at the length of time it took to reach a decision, meaning Edinburgh’s URC match against Leinster last weekend – of which Gilchrist played no part – was not factored into his suspension.
“We’re a little frustrated and disappointed with the length of time it took and when the match ban started from,” said Tandy. “The actual hearing itself was great.
“I was on it myself and I thought it was handled really positively but there was a little bit of frustration over the length of time it took to get to the point of what games he would be missing.”
Tandy reported that everyone currently in the squad is “fit and available” for Sunday and is confident they have enough high-calibre options to cope without the influential Gilchrist.
“In the second row, our squad depth has grown over the last few years to be really competitive,” he said.
“We’ve got Scott Cummings back, we’ve got Jonny Gray, who came on against France and played really well, and Sam Skinner’s playing really well so we’ve got plenty depth there.”
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