Wales v Scotland, Six Nations Championship, February 13
Cusiter promises a few surprises
February 10, 2010
Scotland captain Chris Cusiter takes on the French defence at Murrayfield last weekend © Getty Images
Scotland captain Chris Cusiter has refused to be drawn into a war of words with Wales coach Warren Gatland ahead of their Six Nations clash in Cardiff on Saturday.
Gatland has accused the Scots of being predictable and also questioned opposite number Andy Robinson's "sanity" after it emerged he had requested the roof of the Millennium Stadium to be left open, regardless of the playing conditions. Gatland accused Robinson of abdicating his "responsibility" to ensure the match is as much of a spectacle as possible but Cusiter insisted a rain-affected contest would hurt his side as much as Wales.
"If you look at the style of game that Scotland want to play then it wouldn't make sense if we want wet conditions," the scrum-half told PA Sport. "I think we just want a natural atmosphere to play in. Personally, I'm not bothered if the roof is open or closed. If Andy's made that choice then that's up to him."
Robinson refused to rise to the bait, declaring, "The rules state that if we want to have the roof open then we can have that. I think it's an advantage to Wales playing with the roof closed because they're used to doing it in front of their home support.
"We're used to playing not under those conditions.We want the roof open. All the other games are played without a roof. This is the only place where you can have a roof. We are abiding by the rules, we've made the request, let's deal with it."
Robinson has already admitted he wants to play a more territorial game this weekend after Scotland were completely dominated in that area during Sunday's opening defeat to France. Ending the big-kicking Dan Parks' 14-month international exile is obviously designed at doing just that. But Cusiter - Parks' Glasgow team-mate - echoed his head coach's assertion that Scotland will not simply try to bore the life out of Wales on Saturday.
"We don't have the same game plan as last week, that's for sure," he said. "You'll see a few differences. But we still want to go out and attack and score tries and our focus hasn't changed from that."
Cusiter believes the much-maligned Parks, who has enjoyed something of a renaissance this season, has overcome the on- and off-field problems that dogged him last year. "He's been playing really well for Glasgow," Cusiter said of the man who has inspired the Warriors' push to the top of the Magners League. "He's scored a lot of points for us from his boot in the Magners League. This is the Six Nations and it's a step up. He thoroughly deserves his opportunity, it's up to him to perform and I'm quite sure he will."
Cusiter, 27, and Parks, 31, made their Test debuts in this fixture back in 2004. "We've both come a long way since then," Cusiter said. "It was a good six years ago and we've both got a lot more experience under our belts. To be starting a game is always brilliant for Scotland and it's a real privilege to be playing down at the Millennium Stadium."
Cusiter revealed this week's debrief from the France game had been suitably frank. "We had a good, honest session and we attempted to identify what had gone wrong and move on from that," he said. "We're going to Wales, different team, different tactics, and we've been working hard this week to put things right. You don't get many opportunities in the Six Nations and we've got to do our best in every one."
In related news, Jim Hamilton is desperate to help Scotland kick-start their campaign now he is finally over the most frustrating injury of his career. Hamilton, 27, was drafted into the team for Saturday's game in Wales this afternoon after fellow lock Nathan Hines failed to shake off a calf strain and old ankle problem. Edinburgh star Hamilton only returned to action at the turn of the year after seven months on the sidelines with patella tendonitis in his left knee.
"Initially, I didn't think it was that serious," said Hamilton. "It was just a frustrating niggle that got worse and worse. I went away on holiday, tried to start jogging in the summer and it just didn't get any better. It was at its worst to the point where I couldn't train or play. It was a frustrating injury - probably the most frustrating injury I've had - but I'm over that now, I'm looking forward, and what a great place to go and play at the weekend."
"We're rugby players, everyone will be carrying some kind of injury that is probably going to hamper them for the rest of their career," said the forward, who will earn his 24th cap this weekend. "So it's something we need to deal with and work around - I'm happy with that. I'm at the point now where I can play top-class international rugby - I'm confident I'm at that stage.
"I thought it would take me a few games to get back but I felt really good first game considering I hadn't actually done much contact training because of the weather at the time," he said. "I'm obviously champing at the bit - like the rest of the team are. We want to put the wrongs right that happened at the weekend and we want to take this team forward."