Stuart Hogg calls on Scotland to show sacrifices made have been worth it

Stuart Hogg wants Scotland to show the sacrifices have been worthwhile by beating Ireland in the Autumn Nations Cup third-placed play-off on Saturday.

Scotland finished second in their group after wins over Italy and Fiji and a narrow loss to France, putting them through to a final game of the year in Dublin.

Hogg said: “Some of the boys haven’t seen their families for over five weeks, (scrum coach) Pieter De Villiers hasn’t been home for over two months, so we’ve made a lot of sacrifices to be in this position.

“We want to finish on a high, we want to finish in the best place possible. I feel this group has bonded well off the field. We’ve talked a lot about being a family within our own little bubble over the past couple of months.

“We want to go out there, express ourselves, play the brand of rugby that we know we can play and hopefully make memories on and off the field this weekend.”

It is 10 years since Scotland beat Ireland away from home, and the home side have key man Johnny Sexton available again after injury.

“We want to take on the best Ireland team possible, we believe we can beat the best Ireland team,” said Hogg, who will win his 80th cap.

“It’s a challenge for the boys up front to deliver a solid set-piece ball and it’s an opportunity for our backs to express ourselves. It’s going to be a huge test but one the boys are prepped well for and we feel in a good place. Bring on tomorrow.”

Scotland ended a long winless run away from home against another rival by beating Wales in the Six Nations at the end of October, which assistant coach Mike Blair hopes can give his players extra belief.

He said: “To get that away win against one of the top-tier nations was something really big for us. It doesn’t mean that playing away from home is any easier. This game is as hard as any that we’ll play. But that Wales game has given us a little bit of confidence that these wins are very much possible.

Jaco van der Walt will make his Scotland debut
Jaco van der Walt will make his Scotland debut

South Africa-born Edinburgh fly-half Jaco Van Der Walt will make his Scotland debut after qualifying on residency.

Hogg praised the impact made by the 26-year-old, saying: “He’s been absolutely brilliant. I’d actually never come across him until he came back into camp last weekend.

“We’ve bonded really well, I’ve loved his energy around the place, he’s been working really hard and he chases perfection, which I’ve tried to kind of knock out of him a little bit.

“I’m excited to see how he goes. He’s asked questions at the right time and he’s driven us round the field in a good way this week. Hopefully tomorrow he can do the exact same.”