‘No excuses’ – Ali Price on Scotland’s strength in depth and chasing four or five wins in the Six Nations


The popular Glasgow Warriors player is on course to break the 50-cap barrier over the next few weeks as he embarks on his sixth Six Nations campaign.

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It all starts on Saturday with England’s visit to BT Murrayfield and, as Townsend ponders difficult selection decisions at inside center and No 8, it would be a huge shock if Price was not picked alongside his old halfback partner, Finn Russell.

Ali Price, centre, during a Scotland training session at Oriam this week. (Photo by Craig Williamson/SNS Group)

Price, a natural enthusiast, thinks the current squad is packed with talent and good enough to push for the title. Three wins in a championship have been the glass ceiling for Scotland since the Five Nations became Six but the scrum-half believes it’s time to break through.

“There’s depth in every position now, which maybe has been lacking at times in the past,” Price said. “There are no excuses now because we’ve got it all there, we’ve got the training facilities, we’ve got everything in place for us to perform.

“It’s about the guys that get the chance in the 23rd to get out there and put out a performance that we’re all proud of and that the nation’s proud of. Hopefully that’s what gets us over the line.

“It’s a strong squad and everyone’s confident. There’s a lot of guys in good shape who are looking to go out there and enjoy it and hopefully get off to the best start possible.”

Ali Price helped Scotland win at an empty Twickenham last year. (Photo by Craig Williamson/SNS Group)

Scotland did that last year, beating England at Twickenham for the first time in 38 years. But narrow home losses to Wales and Ireland set them back, although they did finish strongly by defeating Italy at Murrayfield and France in Paris.

“If you get four wins then you’re knocking at the door on that last weekend to see where you finish up,” added Price.

“Last season we had a couple of famous victories away from home that we hadn’t managed to achieve for a number of years, but it was six or seven match points in total that covered the losses at home, whereas in years gone by we ‘ve managed to win our home games and not pick up the away wins.

“It’s trying to put it all together, that’s the challenge. That’s the challenge for all sides to get that four or five wins and get the title, and that’s no different for us. We’re going into this wanting to win every game and hopefully if we can put it all together, draw on the experiences from last year and the year before, we should be in a good place come the last weekend.”

Ali Price, right, and Finn Russell were both part of the British & Irish Lions squad during the summer and are likely to line up for Scotland against England on Saturday. (Photo by Ross Parker/SNS Group)

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According to Price, the missing ingredient is obvious.

“Consistency,” he said. “We had that great win at Twickenham, which was the first in 30 odd years, and we were in a great position the following week against Wales in terms of scoreline but they got it by a point come the end. Ireland, again, was a three-point game.

“It’s just putting it all together now. It’s going to be a challenge because every squad will be in a good place, every squad will believe they can win it.

“This tournament is all about trying to get some momentum early doors. Getting the victory on the board in week one and week two puts you in a good position on the table, so that’s what we will be trying to do. That’s what we’re doing in training now; fine tuning and getting ourselves right for the first game because you can’t look past the first game, it’s massive.”

Price and Russell look set to pit their wits against Ben Youngs and Marcus Smith, the likely England nine and ten who are at opposite ends of their careers.

No-one has started more England Tests at scrum-half than Youngs, 32, who made his international debut (on the wing) at Murrayfield in the 15-15 draw in 2010 when Andy Robinson was in charge of the Scots and leading a side against England for the first time.

Smith, by contrast, is playing in his first Six Nations after impressing at fly-half in the wins over Australia and South Africa. It’s a massive test for the young Harlequins playmaker who will not have Owen Farrell outside him due to the latter’s serious ankle injury. Price thinks that will put more onus on Youngs to guide Smith though the occasion in what is sure to be a raucous atmosphere on Saturday.

“Ben Youngs plays a massive role for the England team, especially now that Farrell’s out,” said Price.

“Ben Young has over 110 caps for England and has a huge amount of experience. He’s a very cool and calm player. Having someone like that inside Marcus will help them. But Marcus is still going to play the way he usually does. Similar to how we play here in Scotland in terms of our control. But we’ve got our own ten in Finn who can break a game up at any moment.

“For us, it’s being aware of what Marcus can do and trying to nullify any off-the-cuff moves that he might try and pull out, and just trying to pressure him.

“It’ll be a pretty loud environment. Anything we can do to get some energy behind us and maybe make the England players second-guess their decisions or put doubt into their minds, we’ll take any advantage we can.”


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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