Six Nations: Scotland need 'best-ever' performance v England - Gregor Townsend

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend speaks to the media after confirming his team to face England
Gregor Townsend says Scotland must 'believe what we do as a team is going to work'
Six Nations 2018: Scotland v England
Venue: Murrayfield Date: Saturday, 24 February Kick-off: 16:45 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One, BBC Radio 5 live and BBC Radio Scotland. Live text commentary and report on the BBC website and app

Scotland will need to produce their "best-ever performance" to end a 10-year winless run against England, says head coach Gregor Townsend.

The Scots have not beaten England since 2008, and not scored a try against them at Murrayfield since 2004.

But Townsend insists his unchanged side "can't wait" to face Eddie Jones' side in Saturday's Six Nations match.

"It is great for our players to test themselves against the best," Townsend told BBC Scotland's Facebook Live.

"We play the number two team in the world this week and the number three team [Ireland] away in two weeks, which is what you want.

"You can tell when the players are preparing, it is a top team we are playing against. It is England.

"We have got to deliver our best in training this week, and when it comes to Saturday afternoon, we have got to deliver our best-ever performance.

"The players are ready to go today, and there are still three days to go.

"It will be a great atmosphere, as it has been for any game over the last couple of seasons, especially since November. But the England game is that extra bit special.

"We just have to make sure the crowd are cheering at the end as well as the beginning."

'No chinks in England's armour'

Before the Six Nations began, England coach Jones called Scotland the "darlings of European rugby" and quipped that "every time the ball goes from side to side, people get excited", in reference to the Scots' attacking style.

The Australian will confirm his team on Thursday, but Townsend was not minded to join Jones in any pre-match jousting.

"You can interpret his comments in two ways," said the former fly-half, who only had victory once - in 2000 - in 10 meetings with England.

"I thought he was pretty complimentary before the Six Nations in a lot of things he talked about. That was down to the work the players put in in November - they pushed the All Blacks close and beat Australia.

"We respect the England team and the English coaches a huge amount. We see the work they have done to get where they are.

Eddie Jones congratulates his England players after their win over Wales
Jones has guided England to 25 wins from his 26 games in charge over the last two years

"There are no chinks in the armour. Every aspect is covered, from set piece to what they are doing in attack and in defence. They are bringing players through to lead that game plan, and that is credit to Eddie and his coaches.

"We need to make sure we go into the game believing that what we do as a team - against any team - is going to work. We have seen aspects of what they do where our rugby will come out and have success.

"But we have also got to realise that if they do things really well to put us under pressure, we have got to be prepared for that and have alternative plans.

"We feel the players have been very aligned with our thinking as a coaching group, and want to put that out on the field. But when it comes to kick-off, they have got to adapt and deal with whatever is thrown at them."

'No doubt' Russell would start

Finn Russell sends out a pass for Scotland against France
Finn Russell "did a lot of really good things" against France but missed a a couple of kicks to touch

Townsend said there was "no doubt" fly-half Finn Russell would start against England, despite being taken off with 20 minutes left against France after an erratic display, with Greig Laidlaw switched to 10 and Ali Price coming on at scrum-half.

"Finn is an outstanding player," Townsend added. "He did a lot of really good things against France.

"People are very quick to look at a missed penalty or a missed tackle, but Finn is an outstanding defender.

"He had some really good kicks and throughout the France game got better and better, which is the sign of a very good player, who can shake off mistakes.

"In the second half he helped us get behind the French and made a couple of breaks himself. He would have done well if he'd stayed on for the last 20 minutes, but he is also a team player and is there to support whatever is right for the team to win. Ali and Greig did a great job at the end and we got a really important win for the team."

Top Stories