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Six Nations Championship

‘We have to be at our best,’ says Cotter

Vern Cotter 2England v Scotland: Scotland head coach Vern Cotter knows his team face their stiffest test when they attempt to secure a first victory against England at Twickenham since 1983.

The outgoing coach believes there is enough strength in the Scottish squad to mount a serious challenge to the Six Nations’ favourites.

He said: “There’s a lot to play for and several reasons why we should be able to get up for this game.

“We’ve rested, recovered and prepared as best we can for this game. We’ve asked some questions of ourselves and the areas we think we can improve and we’re confident we can play better as a team. That’s our next challenge, to step that up.

“The challenge is for us to combine the best parts of our performances so far in this campaign in to one excellent performance at Twickenham.

“We’ll need that to put us in a position to win this game and will enjoy the challenge of doing that against an England team that hasn’t lost in a while.”

He has made one change to the side. Edinburgh Rugby back-row Hamish Watson returns to the front-line having started the opening two rounds of the Championship. He takes the place of the injured John Hardie (knee), whom he replaced in the first half of the win over Wales at BT Murrayfield.

Uncapped club mate Cornell Du Preez takes Watson’s vacated place on the bench.

The Scots are also seeking a first Triple Crown since 1990, while England aim to equal New Zealand’s record of 18 straight Test wins for a tier-one nation.

With Eddie Jones’ all-conquering side going in search of a record-equalling 18th consecutive Test win on Saturday, the eagerly-awaited RBS Six Nations meeting will not be for faint hearts.

The Scots have shown this season, though, that when the heat is on, they have the players who can produce the goods under pressure.

Victories over Ireland and Wales at BT Murrayfield will see Cotter’s side travel south in buoyant mood.

Wing Tim Visser says the Kiwi has instilled a new mental toughness into the squad which is tailor-made for occasions such as Saturday’s showdown.

Visser told a media conference: “At this level it’s all about keeping a calm head.

“We have shown we can do that against Wales and Ireland where we have won in the latter parts of the game. That is really important.

“We have to make the right decisions at the right time. That was really prevalent against Wales.”

Scotland have won two of their first three Six Nations games for the first time since 2006, their home victories over Ireland and Wales placing them third in the table going into the penultimate round on a highest-ever placing of fifth in the world rugby rankings.

The re-selection of the Scotland back-three sees try-scorer against Wales, Tommy Seymour, and Tim Visser join forces with full-back Stuart Hogg, who will equal the record of former Scotland centre Jim Renwick as the most-capped player out of Hawick RFC with a 52nd appearance.

Centre Alex Dunbar partners Huw Jones for the fourth match in succession while the Glasgow Warriors half-back partnership of Finn Russell and Ali Price takes to the field once more.

In the pack an all-Glasgow Warriors front-row of Gordon Reid, Fraser Brown and Zander Fagerson kick-off proceedings alongside returning second-row brothers Jonny and Richie Gray, with Watson joined by captain John Barclay and No. 8 Ryan Wilson in the loose forwards.

The match kicks-off at 4pm.

Scotland: Hogg; Seymour, Jones, Dunbar, Visser; Russell, Price; Reid, Brown, Fagerson, R. Gray, J. Gray, Barclay, Watson, Wilson.

Replacements: Ford, Dell, Berghan, Swinson, Du Preez, Pyrgos, Weir, Bennett.

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