Six Nations 2015: Dan Parks upbeat about Scotland future

By Phil GoodladBBC Scotland
Dan Parks
Dan Parks scored more than 250 points for Scotland during an eight-year international career

Former Scotland stand-off Dan Parks is convinced the national side are heading in the right direction, despite their latest Six Nations disappointment.

A 22-19 defeat at home to Italy on Saturday has left Vern Cotter's Scots with three defeats from three Six Nations matches this year.

But Parks has seen enough to feel encouraged for the future.

"Vern Cotter has made a real impact and I have belief in what's going on within the squad," he told BBC Scotland.

"I didn't see this [defeat to Italy] coming as this side seem to be on the right path, and if you ask me, I think they are.

"From what I've seen of the players and Vern Cotter's coaching strategy, it's been really positive. I really enjoy watching Scotland play and I've been impressed with what they're trying to do.

"There's been real progress, France is a really tough place to go and they lost narrowly, then against Wales, but for a few bits and pieces there could have been a win there."

Scotland's next match is away to England on 14 March and Parks, who made more than 60 appearances for Scotland, scoring more than 250 points, insists a shock win is not out of the question.

The Scotland players were left dejected after a late penalty try gave Italy the win at Murrayfield
The Scotland players were left dejected after a late penalty try gave Italy the win at Murrayfield

"Next time Scotland go on that pitch against England they will be right up for it, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how they respond," the 36-year-old added.

"It's going to be very difficult and confidence will be very low in the squad. They are going to England with nothing to lose, and I'm fairly certain they will bounce back and get stuck in - and why not cause an upset?

"I'd like to think they can get something out of these last couple of games."

Despite his positivity about the future, Parks was hugely disappointed with the Italy result - a win secured thanks to a late penalty try.

"It was painful watching it because Scotland seemed to be in control of the match at 19-15," he added.

"It was a comedy of errors from then on that led to Italy getting the penalty try to win the match, which for everyone watching the game was pretty heartbreaking.

"It shouldn't have been 19-15 at that point, if Scotland are being honest, they weren't at the races for the whole game. The reality is Scotland will be in positions like that going forward, especially coming up to the World Cup, and they've got to be able to grind out those wins."

One area of improvement Parks has identified is on-field leadership, after Saturday's match official George Clancy was unsure of who was the Scotland captain when Greig Laidlaw went off late in the game.

"There are so many guys in that team that I would have thought would step up," he added.

"And there must be some sort of protocol for when Greig does go off that somebody steps up to fill the void. I know Jonny Gray is calling the line-outs so I'm sure he'd have a role in that forward pack.

"I guess there was an element of uncertainty about who was in charge, but I'm sure that's something Scotland have to rectify going forward because when George Clancy was asking the question it did seem a bit surprising."