6N: Hogg relishing ‘one of the most hostile venues in rugby’
CARDIFF, Wales (AP) — Stuart Hogg has never won a test at Principality Stadium, or even scored a point there, and yet he calls it his favorite rugby venue away from Murrayfield.
Hogg leads Scotland into the home of Wales in the Six Nations on Saturday, when they will aim to end a 20-year win drought in Cardiff.
Road trips no longer intimidate the Scots so much after long-awaited victories last year at Twickenham and the Stade de France, though without crowds. The Scots are full of belief and, after beating England again at Murrayfield last weekend to launch their best title shot in decades, Hogg has been hyping the visit to Principality Stadium to teammates.
He made his test debut there in the 2012 Six Nations, going on early as an injury substitute. But in his only four tests in Cardiff, Scotland has never been close.
“We’re going to one of the most hostile venues in world rugby, a venue I’ve told the boys this week that if you haven’t been fortunate enough to play here yet, you’re going to get your eyes opened,” Hogg said after the captain’s run on Friday.
“It’s one hell of an atmosphere. It’s a great place to play rugby. The Welsh absolutely love supporting their team. It’s a quality venue, absolutely incredible.
“For me personally, outside of Murrayfield, it’s the best place to play rugby. I made my debut here a long time ago and every time I get the opportunity to come down to Wales, I love the whole weekend.”
The game became a 74,000-seat sellout last week soon after Welsh crowd limits were lifted, and Hogg knows of four or five busloads and a large amount of cars with family and friends coming from his Hawick home, alone.
“For me to get the opportunity to represent Scotland in one of the world’s best stadiums is quality. But we’re here to do a job and that’s the sole focus,” he said.
“We’ve prepared well and we feel we’re in a good place but it counts for nothing unless we give a true reflection of ourselves.
“There’s a huge amount of belief in this squad that we can go out and get these victories, and hopefully we can do that in Cardiff. It’s going to be incredibly challenging for 80 minutes but we’re very much looking forward to it.”
Wales counterpart Dan Biggar is looking forward to spoiling Scotland’s hopes under an open stadium roof.
Biggar will also have family present for his 100th test — 97th for Wales after three for the British and Irish Lions — and his first test at home as captain.
He said Wales must produce a response after being crushed by Ireland last weekend or its title defense is over.
“We’re looking for a reaction. We’re hoping to try and stifle that momentum and confidence they’ve built up,” Biggar said.
“We’re hoping the experience of disappointment and bouncing back will stand us in good stead.”
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