Gloucester Rugby may have endured contrasting fortunes to Scotland this autumn, but scrum-half Greig Laidlaw is confident of using his international form to inspire his side back to winning ways.
While the 29-year-old was away, guiding Scotland to victories over Argentina and Tonga and a narrow defeat to New Zealand, Gloucester suffered back-to-back Aviva Premiership Rugby losses against Harlequins and Newcastle Falcons.
With his Scotland duties finished, Laidlaw will skipper the Cherry & Whites when they face London Irish on Saturday, with David Humphreys’ side seeking their first win since an impressive 33-16 triumph over Leicester Tigers.
Laidlaw’s return is a welcome boost, not least because his scrum-half rival Dan Robson has been ruled for the short term after suffering a concussion against Newcastle last weekend.
Yet Laidlaw insists he would rather have won back the No.9 jersey on merit alone, having relished in the competition for a starting berth with Robson since joining in the summer.
“It was a very enjoyable autumn and Scotland is a great squad to be a part of but I’m focused on Gloucester now and have loved being back for a tough week of training,” he said.
“It was easy to stay in touch with the boys while on international duty but unfortunately we picked up a few defeats in the last few weeks.
“We’ve slipped down the table a little bit with a couple of sub-par performances so I’m hoping to help put that right.
“Competing with Dan for the starting role has definitely pushed me on this season – he’s a top player and I knew that when I signed here and it’s been a good battle between us this year.
“It was unfortunate for him having to come off injured early on against Newcastle last weekend and there were a few injuries that disrupted some of the changes we made.”
Having firmly established himself as Scotland’s first choice scrum-half, Laidlaw admits he is indebted to Gloucester for helping him rediscover his best form this campaign.
And with the Cherry & Whites welcoming back several other internationals soon, Laidlaw believes the next few weeks are crucial to his side achieving their top-six ambitions.
“I’m really enjoying my time down here in Gloucester, we’ve got great training facilities and a great squad as well as an impressive coaching set up,” he added.
“We all knew it would take a little bit of time to pull together but I feel we’re getting there and we have already shown glimpses of what we can do.
“I’ve also taken to Premiership rugby because every week is a big game and everyone has always got something to fight for, whether it’s top four, top six or avoiding relegation.
“You’ve really got to have your head screwed on and focus in this league and that’s been really helping my performances.”
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