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Chris Cusiter: he’s some boy, that Stuart Hogg

The formidable French team comes to Murrayfield on Sunday on top form, following on from an impressive victory over Italy in their opening and so far only game of the tournament.

They came within a whisker of winning the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand last year with an inspired performance against the hosts in the final. This is going to be a great challenge for us.

The majority of their backs come from the two best clubs in France - Clermont Auvergne and Toulouse - and hence know their way to the try line. It will be a huge test for our defence.

France is a wonderful rugby country. As far I can see, they eschew all the new-fangled training methods and sports science, but appear to be none the worse for it. They produce a huge number of talented rugby players year after year - one merely has to look at the scrum-half position and think of the players who can’t get near the team to see how much depth they have.

Players like Julian Thomas, Sebastian Tillous-Bordes and Nicolas Durand amongst others don’t get a look in with the French squad these days, yet are self-evidently brilliant players.

I’m obviously disappointed to be on the replacements bench for this one, but international rugby is a fairly unforgiving place and I didn’t have my best game against Wales. I’ll be back, but in the meantime, I’m focusing on making an impact off the bench.

Our games thus far have been played at a high tempo with the ball in play for a lot longer than your average game. We pride ourselves on being a fit team, but the substitutes can definitely make a big difference when they come on. The aim is usually to keep the pace of the game up and bring enthusiasm and direction to the team.

On that note, a word on Stuart Hogg who made his Scotland debut off the bench against Wales and did magnificently. He probably got on a lot earlier than expected after Max Evans injured his ankle but settled in immediately and showed us a few glimpses of what he’s capable of delivering.

It was really disappointing that he had his legitimate try ruled out by referee Romain Poite for a suspected knock on (to be fair to Monsieur Poite, he later apologised for his error) but my favourite moment was when he turned Jamie Roberts, one of the world’s best centres inside out with a great step and then broke free with a fend on Jonathan Davies. It was great stuff.

He’s been on a high ever since, and I see he is now even claiming George Best as some sort of long-lost cousin! He’s some boy, that Stuart Hogg. I’m sure you’re all looking forward to seeing more of him in a blue jersey on Sunday.

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