Saturday, 21 January 2017

Matt Scott on Scotland 6 Nations recall: I've Billy Twelvetrees to thank

Matt Scott was on Wednesday named in Scotland's 6 Nations squad, having been overlooked by Vern Cotter for the Autumn Internationals. Just a week-and-a-half ahead of the recall, Scott told me he'd have Gloucester team-mate Billy Twelvetrees to thank if he got the call... Here's that piece, first published in The Rugby Paper:

Matt Scott couldn’t be doing much more to stake his claim for a Scotland recall ahead of the Six Nations – and he says he has an Englishman to thank.

Dropped from Vern Cotter’s squad for the Autumn Tests, Scott has been working with fellow Gloucester centre Billy Twelvetrees on refining his game.

And it has reaped some immediate dividends.

TEAM EFFORT: Matt Scott and Billy Twelvetrees bring down Leicester's Manu Tuilagi

Scott is tied for second with Bath winger Semesa Rokoduguni in the list of top Premiership finishers this season, with eight tries to his name. Only Wasps’ Christian Wade has dotted down more times in the league.

But it is in defence where Scott has been focusing most of his efforts since making the summer move from Edinburgh to Kingsholm, with Twelvetrees – himself overlooked by his country – proving an inspiration.

AGE: 26
INTERNATIONAL DEBUT: 10 March, 2012 versus Ireland
CLUBS: Edinburgh, Gloucester

"The feedback I got after I was dropped was about the defence – they felt there were a couple of other centres who were maybe more defensively sound than me,” said 26-year-old Scott, who scored twice in Gloucester’s seven-try thumping of Worcester last weekend. “They told me to keep working on it and that’s what I’ve been doing.

HEAD TO HEAD: Scott and Twelvetrees in action against one another in the 2013 Six Nations

“I have been working with Billy and I love the way he has this energy and passion for defending. I’ve not come across anything like it before.

“He is a class player – an England international and a British Lion – and it’s lovely to be able to learn off him and these other guys.”

Scott has 36 caps, with his last appearance for Scotland coming in June against Japan.

“I’m absolutely desperate to get back in the mix for the Six Nations,” he said.

“I was absolutely gutted to miss out in the autumn. But centre is such a competitive position now in the Scotland squad, whereas in the past it maybe wasn’t.

“I need to improve all aspects of my game to get in the squad and if I can get up there where the coaches can watch me then I can hopefully show them why I’m worthy of a place again.”

“Scoring tries gets your name in the headlines but it’s about the whole performance and there are other aspects of my performance that need working on. Sometimes scoring tries glosses over that.”