Scotland can win the Six Nations “in the next two or three years”, says former captain Greig Laidlaw.
The Scots have failed to mount a meaningful title challenge since last winning the tournament in 1999 when it was still the Five Nations.
But Laidlaw thinks the pieces are falling into place for Gregor Townsend’s side.
“They need to just keep making strides,” Laidlaw told the BBC Scotland Rugby Podcast.
“Scotland can win the Six Nations in the next two or three years, in my opinion. It’s the old thing with Scotland – don’t get too far ahead of ourselves.
“If we win one game that’s fine, but park it and move on to the next one. When we had that good win over Ireland at Murrayfield in 2017 under Vern Cotter, we went to Paris the next week and put in a poor collective performance as a team.
“It was almost like, ‘Well, we’ve beaten Ireland so we’re going to be all right this year’. There are no easy games.
“Scotland have got the players to do it and I’m certainly excited. You’ve still got Stuart Hogg, hopefully Finn Russell can come back into the fold and you’ve got Adam Hastings as well who has done well in the Six Nations. Jamie Ritchie and these other young forwards have plenty of energy to come through and put Scotland in a good spot.”
‘I’d love to coach Scotland one day’
Laidlaw has signed a two-year deal to move to Japan with Shining Arcs next season having left French side Clermont Auvergne. The former Edinburgh scrum-half retired from international duty after last year’s Rugby World Cup having earned 76 caps and scored 714 Test points.
When his playing career ends, a move into coaching would seem an obvious move for Laidlaw, who captained Scotland more than any other player, and he admits he has ambitions to coach his country in the future.
“If I was going into it I wouldn’t want to do it half-hearted,” he said. “I’d be going in for a top job eventually. If you’re going in, you’re going all in.
“I’d love to coach Scotland one day. There’s obviously a long way to go. I’ve proved nothing on the coaching front.
“It’s all well talking about it and anybody can say they would be a good coach. But I’m a big believer in you’ve got to start at the bottom, earn your stripes and work your way up. That’s how I looked at my own rugby career and it wouldn’t be any different if I do end up going into some coaching roles.”