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Young gun Scott is cocked and ready

Since he has only just turned 22, the nature of the questions fielded by the first apprentice professional to be capped by Scotland this week outlined just how different things are in the camp ahead of this season's RBS 6 Nations Championship.

Only a year ago Matt Scott's callowness contributed to the rash decision to call Steve Shingler, a player with a similar skill set but who was considered more experienced, into Scotland's squad before the Wales-born fly-half's eligibility was checked out properly.

Scott subsequently made his debut as an emergency replacement in Dublin during last season's Six Nations Championship and gained his first starts on tour in the summer. He has since started all three autumn Tests and has been among the few Edinburgh players to maintain his form this season.

Yet here he was having to explain his thoughts on being put under pressure by another up-and-comer, not to mention those on the opportunity presented by facing a new-look England midfield.

First up was the matter of retaining his place by default, with Peter Horne having initially been selected alongside clubmate Sean Lamont in the midfield before the uncapped Glasgow Warrior dropped out with a thumb injury he suffered while training with the national team.

"Peter's done really well. It's unfortunate for him that he's injured otherwise he would have been starting," said Scott. "Not that I ever assumed my position at all, but it's definitely given me all the reason to prove that I should have been starting this weekend.

"I've not played with Sean at 13 which is possibly why Scott [Johnson, the Scotland interim head coach] was looking at Peter and Sean, because they've played together at Glasgow. Sean's a really easy guy to work with, though. He's solid in defence and in attack. He's not going to let you down there, so I'm quite comfortable with him beside me."

Then there was that rather amusing matter of asking this relative Test newcomer about the prospect of exposing an England rookie, with the uncapped Billy Twelvetrees expected to replace the injured Manu Tuilagi in their starting XV.

"They're all going to be quality players and most of them will have no problem playing in front of 80,000 people. We've got guys in our squad as well who have under 10 caps which is relatively inexperienced so I don't think it makes too much of a difference," said Scott, deflecting the issue with the deftness of a veteran.

He is hardly that, of course, but he has been involved long enough to pass comment on the impact being made by Johnson as the interim head coach. "He's got a unique style of delivery - a different accent, a different sense of humour. It is quite nice, quite refreshing," said Scott.

"Off the pitch he's big on everyone having a bit of down-time and he likes to wind boys up for various reasons. If they're not training he likes to dig into them for being soft, but he gets the balance right. He doesn't want it to be like a concentration camp when you're in Six Nations camp. You do need a bit of downtime when we're working this hard.

"He had a lot of say when Andy was here as well and we all know what he wants. He's one of the most knowledgeable people I've ever spoken to about rugby and I've learned a massive amount from him. He certainly knows his stuff, it's not all just a facade."

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