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Last Updated: Friday, 1 February 2008, 16:55 GMT
Chris Cusiter's column
Chris Cusiter
Chris Cusiter
Scotland scrum-half

It is February, the weather is miserable and the rugby coverage in the media has increased 10-fold this week. It seems that the RBS Six Nations is upon us once again.

Nick De Luca is no shrinking violet
I played with Nick De Luca at the Borders last season and he does not want for confidence

Scotland scrum-half Chris Cusiter

The team reconvened in Edinburgh on Monday lunchtime after a three-month stint of club rugby and picked up where we left off after the World Cup.

It has been good to see the boys and get the banter that we had over in France last year going again.

Whilst other countries have chopped and changed coaching staff, or had their most senior players retire, we have got a good bit of continuity going, with a fairly similar squad and the same coaching set-up.

The advantages of this are obvious and we hope to hit the ground running on Sunday when we take on defending champions France at Murrayfield.

The weather this week has been atrocious so far, save for a lovely sunny but breezy day on Monday.

Nathan Hines and I flew out of Perpignan on Sunday afternoon, leaving behind 25 degrees of sunshine.

Out of the frying pan and into the mire, one might say. We have trained well, though, in the conditions and used football club Hearts' indoor training ground in order to escape the snow on Thursday afternoon.

France are going to be a fairly unknown quantity in our first match, though I know a little bit more about them, having played against some of the new guys in the Top 14.

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Their young fly-half, Francois Trinh-Duc, has been the form stand-off in the championship so far this season and has been picked on merit.

Alongside Fulgence Ouedraogo and Loic Jacquet, he helped the French Under-21 side to the World Championship title in 2006 under the same coaching set-up that now looks after the senior side.

Their pedigree is undoubted, though they can't help but lack a bit of experience being as young as they are.

Indeed, my counterpart on the French bench is a 19-year-old from Bourgoin called Morgan Parra. He is a hugely promising player, who can double up as a stand-off, and has done so regularly this season for his club side.

There are 11 clubs represented in the squad, which is a fair representation of the way the Top 14 has gone this year, when the less-fancied teams like Montpellier and Albi have upset the odds on a few occasions.

On the wing, Julien Malzieu has been on top try scoring form and has a tremendous ability to break tackles. He will definitely be one we are keeping an eye on.

Chris Cusiter in action for Perpignan
Cusiter is now playing for Perpignan

On our side, Nick De Luca wins his first cap after stringing together some impressive performances in the midfield for Edinburgh.

I played with Nick at The Borders last season and I can't imagine the occasion will get to him too much. He does not want for confidence.

I remember at one point last season, he was having a discussion with defence coach Alan Tait about what line he should be running in a certain move.

They argued for a bit, as players sometimes do, and then Nick ended the discussion with: "Actually Taity, I think when you go home tonight and are lying in bed thinking about this, you will realise that I am right." How can you argue with that?

Nick has a natural ability to beat players in a one-on-one situation and I hope he gets a few opportunities on Sunday to show what he can do.

The conditions may dictate the type of game that can be played. The forecast is for heavy snow, which will make it interesting.

It may not be a day for beautiful rugby, but it'll certainly be a day for smart rugby. We are all awaiting the kick-off with great excitement.



SEE ALSO
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Six Nations Young Guns 2008
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Six Nations pundit predictions
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