Scotland v France, Six Nations, February 7
Cusiter sounds rallying call
February 4, 2010
Veteran Chris Paterson returns to the Scotland side for their Six Nations opener with France © Getty Images
Scotland captain Chris Cusiter has demanded his side raise their game for the Six Nations showdown with France at Murrayfield on Sunday.
Cusiter is one of nine Glasgow players in the line-up and the scrum-half has called on his team-mates to use their familiarity as the launch pad to a winning start in this year's Championship.
"There's a level of familiarity about the Glasgow guys; we've been playing well all season," the 27-year-old told PA Sport. "But the point is, this is the Six Nations and it's a step up. From one to 22, we have to step up our game. Playing as we do in the Magners League won't be good enough on Sunday."
Cusiter is also hoping some inside knowledge pays off this weekend having recently completed a stint with French Top 14 side Perpignan. "I really enjoy playing against French sides and France in particular," said Cusiter, who spent two years with the Catalan club. "They play some of the best rugby in the world and I think, having played out there, I maybe understand a bit more about their mentality and certainly their language."
He added, "It's a great advantage for us to be playing at Murrayfield. I think it's 62,000 seats sold so it's being close to a full house, which would be fantastic for us, getting that big crowd behind us. We know we've got a massive challenge playing France. They're probably the favourites for the championship."
Cusiter was involved the last time Scotland beat France in the opening match of the 2006 Six Nations. That built momentum which resulted in arguably the country's best championship performance of the last decade. Despite acknowledging the importance of a winning start, Cusiter was unwilling to reflect on it's consequences.
"It would be huge but that's a long way away," he said. "We've got to concentrate on how we're going to get there. Training's gone well this week, we've got a good game plan behind us. We have to go out and execute and that's all down to us, to the players and the guys coming off the bench. The pressure's on, as it always is, but we're excited about the challenge and we're going to enjoy it."
Cusiter knows he and fly-half Phil Godman are under pressure to create more tryscoring opportunities on Sunday. "We had a good autumn series; we felt we made a lot of good progress," he said. "We've been training really well, we've got a good game plan in place and good players.
"We want to attack, we want to score tries. We were disappointed only to score a couple in the autumn. But we know with the attacking players that we have and the moves that we have, we are capable of beating any defence."