Six Nations 2017: Scotland can win three games - Andy Nicol

Jonny and Richie Gray
Forwards Jonny and Richie Gray will be key players for Scotland against Ireland
2017 RBS Six Nations: Scotland v Ireland
Venue: BT Murrayfield Date: Saturday, 4 February Kick-off: 14:25 GMT
Coverage: Watch live on BBC One & BBC Sport website & app. Listen on BBC Radio Scotland & BBC Radio 5 live sports extra; text commentary on BBC Sport website & app

Three wins should be the target for Scotland in this year's Six Nations, former national team captain Andy Nicol has told BBC Radio Scotland.

However, Nicol considers Ireland, Saturday's visitors to Murrayfield in the championship opener, to be "one of the form teams in world rugby".

"They play a very basic game plan but Joe Schmidt is a just a fantastic coach, he's got them playing with intensity and physicality," Nicol said.

"This is a huge task for Scotland."

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Nicol thinks home advantage can play a part in Scotland registering an opening-day win for the first time since 2006, but a host of other factors make him think head coach Vern Cotter can enjoy a successful final Six Nations campaign.

"It is really going to be a really close, physical game, probably determined by small factors," added Nicol.

"If we can win those little ones, then I think we can win this tomorrow.

"Every player will have to be playing close to their best but I think we can do that because the players have confidence in each other.

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"I think this is the best squad we've had since 1999 and it might even be a better squad because of the depth we've got in certain positions.

"There's a lot of confidence, something like 34 of the players are in European knockout rugby.

"They are playing well, the autumn Tests were good, the coaching team and players seem to be completely aligned and playing a game plan that they are very suited to.

"All that suggests that we should have a good Six Nations and for me that means we should be aiming for three wins."

Nicol points to Ireland's victory over the All Blacks last year as proof that they can challenge England for the Six Nations title.

However, while he can understand the nerves in the Scotland camp this week about facing Ireland, he thinks that can be used to the players' advantage.

He said: "The nerves for me came on match day and culminated five minutes before you ran out the changing room, when all the self-doubt comes in.

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"But when you run out to the field of play suddenly there is no other place in the world you'd rather be.

"A coach said to me that nerves focus the mind but anxiety dulls the mind. Nerves are good."

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