Glasgow Warriors hooker Fraser Brown is being tipped to have a huge Six Nations for Scotland.
Brown has been integral for the Warriors in their excellent form in the Guiness Pro 12, as well as their progression into the European Rugby Champions Cup, where they have booked passage into the quarter-finals.
Brown, though, now has his sights firmly set on the Six Nations and he believes the form of both Glasgow and Edinburgh is a huge help to the squad.
“Going into the Six Nations, we have both clubs doing well in Europe especially Glasgow and it is not just off the back of the results but performances as well and the attitude is good in the build up to this tournament, obviously we always look to build up for a good start – it is that kind of tournament but this year more than I have seen there is more, not sure confidence is the right word, but maybe belief in how we are playing,” Brown admitted.
Scotland are going into the tournament as many people’s ‘Dark Horses’ to produce something special, and they could be helped by the fact that they will have three home matches this time around but Brown admits that this comes with its own pressures, and none more so than in the opening encounter with Ireland.
“With having three games at home, it is a big chance but that also means if we want to do really well we can’t afford to lose that first game so starting well is huge, but that is the case if you speak to the other five nations,” he continued.
“All nations are really proud to play at home and that is no different to us. In recent years we have tried to build Murrayfield up to become a hard place to play and that attitude has to be right.”
This will be Scotland coach Vern Cotter’s final 6 Nations before he steps aside for current Glasgow supremo Gregor Townsend, a man Brown clearly knows well – but he feels that unlike in other sports, the change of a head coach in this regard should be very smooth.
“At the time it was a shock when Vern announced it back last year, but it is very different to football people have not got carried away and impending pressures and stuff like that of someone new coming in – but know it is a chance to carry on what we have now,” he said.
“We have a great team, great bunch of coaches, and we have been building something with Vern and this is the last chance for us to do it with him before inevitably it changes a little but that does not affect our thinking we have a goal and we are 100 per cent focussed on that.”
Brown himself has only broken into the professional ranks recently and the last 18-months have been something of a whirlwind for him, and he could not be happier with how things are going for him.
We feel we have an opportunity this year and you have to try and grab that with both hands.
“I was unfortunate earlier in my career, but you could see that as balancing out but going to Glasgow with Gregor, he did a great job of looking outside the professional ranks and he has brought a few of us through and at the moment it is such a great place to be at, with the type of rugby we play and all the characters around the squad. It is a really enjoyable environment for everyone at the moment,” he said.
“We feel we have an opportunity this year and you have to try and grab that with both hands.
“We are happy doing our job, the media speculation is just that – if they are talking up other teams that gives us the focus to carry on doing what we are doing and not be concerned with anyone else.”
And as with any British or Irish playing heading into the 6 Nations, the forthcoming Lions tour of New Zealand and Brown admits, it is a dream – but at the moment, it remains just that.
“Most people would lie if they said they had not dreamed about it, but that is not realistic at the moment,”
“For me I have a huge battle just to play for Scotland, you don’t know what will happen at the end of the year, if you are playing well you never know what opportunities open up for you but all the thoughts are doing well in these next five games for Scotland and then back to your clubs – but for myself I am just focused on getting a start here.”