Thursday, February 4, 2010

Rugby: EK rugby star Ally targets Six Nations crown

RUGBY star Ally Strokosch believes it’s time Scotland realised their potential and lifted the Six Nations crown.

The 26-year-old from Stewartfield (pictured right) will have to watch from the sidelines at Murrayfield on Sunday as Scotland open their championship account against France.

The Gloucester flanker suffered a heartbreak injury and is out of the match – but says now is the time for the Dark Blues to stand up and be counted after years of talented teams failing to live up to their billing.

Ally told the News: “I definitely believe we can win the championship this year and that is our plan. We’ve set ourselves a target and that target is to win it. I think we are better prepared than last year and we are not a young team anymore.

“We’ve got a good side and it’s time all the potential we’ve talked about for the last few years was realised.

“France will be a tough start for us, but a lot of our guys have faced the French players regularly in European rugby and beaten them, so we know them well and what to expect.

“We had a good build up with the performances in the Autumn Tests (where Scotland beat Australia) and, although we lost the third game, that should stand us in good stead. We need to build our defensive display, though, and be quicker in the attack when we play France.

“But confidence is high and so is the spirit in the squad.”

After recording their first win over Australia in 27 years back in November, the Scotland camp will, no doubt, still be buzzing from the famous 9-8 victory.

However, if Andy Robinson’s Scotland side are to record victory over France this weekend they will have to overcome their terrible opening day hoodoo. For the Scots have lost nine of their last 10 opening matches in the Six Nations and this is something Ally says they are determined to change as the team aim to beat France, England, Wales, Ireland and Italy to the coveted title.

The former East Kilbride Rugby Club player added: “It’s a record we want to change. We are by no means the finished article yet, but I’m confident we can have a big impact this year – and we need to start with a good performance against France.

“They will be one of the biggest threats this year along with Ireland and Wales. Ireland are full of quality players at the moment and they won the Grand Slam last year, so they will go in as favourites. And Wales won the Grand Slam two years ago, so they are in there, too.

“It will be great to see how it unfolds this year, but we need to focus on beating France first.”

After this weekend’s match, Scotland travel to the Millennium Stadium on February 13 to face Wales, to the Stadio Flaminio on February 27 to face Italy before the Calcutta Cup match with England at Murrayfield on March 13 and a potentially huge match with Ireland on the final day, March 20, at Croke Park.

The Scots are looking forward to a home tie with England as they aim to avenge their 26-12 defeat at Twickenham last year.

“It’s always good to play England,” said Ally with great zeal. “It’s great to have them at Murrayfield this year and have the crowd behind us.

“To be honest, I’m not really that bothered where we play them anyway – I just care about winning the match.”

Ireland V Scotland Hospitality

Six Nations Hospitality

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