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Laidlaw: World class Finn Russell can break any defence

The Scotland scrum-half says the match in Dublin is now bigger than Calcutta Cup clash.

Finn Russell will join Racing 92 in France next season
Finn Russell will join Racing 92 in France next season © SNS Group

Greig Laidlaw says his half-back partner Finn Russell could hold the key to beating Grand Slam-chasing Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.

Fly-half Russell produced a stunning man-of-the-match display in the Calcutta Cup victory over England after below-par performances against Wales and France.

Scotland will aim to blow the championships wide open with a victory over Joe Schmidt's Irish side at the Aviva Stadium and former captain Laidlaw reckons Russell will be pivotal to their success.

The 32-year-old said: "When he's in that confident mood, we feel as though we can break any defence in the world.

"He's a world class player. He had a couple of sticky moments in the first two games but you're never always going to get your own way in test match rugby at this level.

"He's a strong character Finn, he likes to have a laugh and a joke but he's serious about his rugby.

"It's brilliant to play alongside him, play with him and certainly the players round about him in the back line, all the forwards, they love playing with him."

Laidlaw, who kicked three penalties for club side Clermont Auvergne last weekend, believes that the Ireland match has now become a bigger game than the England encounter at Murrayfield.

The former captain added: "It was tremendous but, as I said, it's one game in the championship and now we've done that, we've got the Calcutta Cup back here at Murrayfield, that will rest safe for a year so it's about the Ireland game moving forward.

"I think in the context of now in the Six Nations yes because if we're serious about challenging for the title then we need to win this game.

"Clearly Ireland are unbeaten, they're going well and they're a very good side."

Although Gregor Townsend has only made one injury-enforced change to his line-up with Blair Kinghorn taking Tommy Seymour's place on the wing, Laidlaw has stressed that the strength of the squad has been key to their success.

He said: "We're training very well, the competition is tough, that's whats pushing the performance at the weekends.

"We're in a good spot, that's something that's been developed over the last three four seasons.

"Getting strength, depth, getting players up to that test level.

"I think the whole of Scottish Rugby has done a good job to get us into that position."

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