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Lamont hoping vast experience of Scots will make the difference

Having made more than twice as many Test appearances as the most capped Englishman taking the field today, Sean Lamont is hoping the experience he and his senior colleagues have gathered can give Scotland a crucial edge.

Scotland's Sean Lamont training ahead of collecting his 72nd cap.  Picture: SNS
Scotland's Sean Lamont training ahead of collecting his 72nd cap. Picture: SNS

The wing turned centre has represented his country 71 times compared with England prop Dan Cole's 35, while Dougie Hall's first start in six years means that when the game kicks off five Scots – Lamont, Hall, captain Kelly Brown (52), Euan Murray, who is bringing up his half century today and Jim Hamilton (41) will have played 40 or more internationals.

By contrast, only three Englishmen – Chris Ashton (29) and Ben Youngs (28) are the others – have played more than 20 and even in the front five, where Cole plies his trade, the Scottish quintet have won 161 caps, just 30 fewer than the entire England team.

"You've encountered more situations so whatever the situation is on the field I'm sure there's been a time when we've been there before so you know how to deal with it," Lamont reckoned. "You can do everything you can off the field beforehand but until you're playing that 80 minutes you've just got to see how it goes."

Lamont's own move infield is accommodating what is the most inexperienced unit in the Scotland team, a back three in which, at the age of 20, Stuart Hogg is the senior man with 10 caps with Tim Visser boasting half that many and Sean Maitland making his debut. His principal message to them is simple.

"Keep calm and we know what we need to do, we have the gameplan in place and if we stick to it, it will work," he said. "We've simplified a few things and it's no frills, but it's something that we think will be effective. If we implement it correctly, it gives us the best chance."

It was inevitable that there would be an element of getting back to basics with so little time to prepare under this new regime, but there is a freshness too.

"New coaches always come in and bring new ideas," said Lamont. "It's the same wherever you are, whether with Scotland or club or wherever. Very rarely will a coach keep everything the same. "They try not to change too much in one go, but we've just simplified it because there's not been a whole lot of time so it's been concentrated. Training's been really hard, really intense, but it's been good, it's been fun."

As Scott Johnson, their caretaker coach, noted yesterday, the firepower provided by the new-look back three has transformed the threat Scotland offer and make them a team others will be more wary of.

Having been part of a Scotland team that feels it could and should have won the last two meetings with England, then, Lamont likes their chances. "I'm not a betting man . . . I don't like gambling but we're happy to be underdogs and it's always been close with England in the last few," he said.

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