Hadden hoping for improvement
Scotland coach Frank Hadden reckons his squad can give a much improved performance in this year's RBS Six Nations competition.
Last Updated: 22/01/08 6:37pm
Scotland coach Frank Hadden is convinced that the squad he has painstakingly assembled can give a much improved performance in this year's RBS Six Nations competition.
Hadden's side certainly hope to improve upon last season's ignominious wooden spoon, with ambitions this time focused on the top-half finish they managed in 2006.
On that occasion, Scotland beat France, England and Italy, with the defending champions making tricky first opponents at Murrayfield on February 3rd.
Nevertheless, Hadden claims that, thanks to effort invested in developing players, Scotland have given themselves the best possible chance to impress.
"We were training yesterday in absolutely atrocious conditions, we had some injuries, we had some illness, we have some uncertainty about who's going to be there tomorrow, but I'm still looking round and thinking this is a very good squad," he said.
"It's taken some time to build, there's been a lot of work gone into it.
"We've addressed positions where we thought there wasn't much competition and put a lot of effort into individuals to try to get them up to speed, and I'm really happy now with the competition we've got.
You know, for a country as small as ours to have so many quality players available is a real boost for us."
One of the players Hadden hopes to see fulfil his potential on the international stage is Phil Godman, the 25-year-old Edinburgh fly-half having played in last year's competition against both Wales and Italy.
Godman has not featured since Scotland's desperate home loss to the Azzurri but has shown strong form for his club this season.
Hadden continued: "I always knew Phil had the ability to play at this level, and last year I kind of forced him on a wee bit too quickly with the hope that he might make the World Cup."
Instead, both Dan Parks and Chris Paterson wore the number 10 jersey as Scotland reached the World Cup quarter-finals, with Glasgow's Parks starting all but the New Zealand match at Murrayfield.
"We were absolutely delighted with Dan," said Hadden. "The fact that Dan and Chris and Phil are all in good form is a real bonus for us."
Looking forward to next Sunday's opener, and having beaten France in the corresponding fixture two years ago, Scotland know what it takes to cause an upset.
However, Hadden admits that, with Marc Lievremont installed as the successor to former coach Bernard Laporte, it will be difficult to envisage how the visiting team might play.
"We're not quite sure what the French are going to bring because they've got new coaches and they may have new players, we don't know what their squad is yet," he said.
"But we're at home and that's very important, we've got a sell-out on a Sunday, which we haven't done for some time and we're determined to give our supporters the best possible start to the championship."