Stuart Hogg hurt by talk of France going for Six Nations title against Scotland
Captain Stuart Hogg has revealed his “hurt” at France’s expectations of competing for the Six Nations title when they face Scotland on Friday night.
France must beat Scotland by 21 points and earn a four-try bonus point in the rearranged Paris clash in order to pip Wales to the Six Nations crown.
Scotland can secure their highest-ever Six Nations finish of second place with an eight-point win over Les Bleus at the Stade de France, however.
And Exeter full-back Hogg has admitted Scotland are itching to vent their frustrations when facing Fabien Galthie’s men, for the hosts’ perceived presumption of victory.
“A lot’s been said, and it’s beginning to hack me off, about them needing 21 points to win the title,” said Hogg.
“And I saw someone from their camp talking about them playing for the trophy.
“As a proud Scotsman that hurt me a lot.
“A lot’s been said about what they need to do. But if we win by eight points we secure our highest ever Six Nations finish. So that’s the motivation.”
Scotland are without British and Irish Lions wing Sean Maitland for Friday’s crucial encounter, that was delayed due to a previous Covid-19 outbreak in the France squad.
Head coach Gregor Townsend was only able to select five English-based players due to an 11th-hour agreement, with the match now falling outside the usual Test window.
That has seen the luckless Saracens wing Maitland miss the match, leaving skipper Hogg feeling for his Test team-mate.
Asked to appraise the situation facing Scotland given France had suffered the coronavirus outbreak, Hogg made his feelings known without crossing any lines.
When asked if Scotland’s selection limitations are unfair, Hogg replied: “Well 100 per cent, but this is a headline question. For me we’re very much put the squad first and make sure we get the job done first and play for these boys.
“My opinion is one I’ll keep to myself because I don’t want it to be a headline now when there’s other things to concentrate on.
“I’ve seen how much it hurt Sean Maitland not to be involved. That hurt him a lot.
“The other boys too, they have had a massive impact on what we’ve done in training and in matches in the last few weeks.
“So the challenge now is for us to put in a performance that they’d be proud of. We’ll be going out there to play for everyone.”
Scotland must also do without Matt Fagerson, who suffered an injury in training.
Nick Haining now starts at number eight, with Ryan Wilson drafted onto the bench and poised to win his 50th cap.
“We’re absolutely gutted for Matt, he’s been outstanding for the whole Six Nations for us, we’ve really felt for him and it’s so disappointing for him,” said Hogg.
“We obviously wish him all the best in his recovery, but it’s also an opportunity for the other guys. Nick Haining’s on a good bit of form, and so is Ryan Wilson.
“The challenge now is for us to make sure we get everything right before the game after the changes, but I’ve no doubt those guys can step in and do an equally good job.”