Six Nations 2018: Finn Russell key for Scotland to break down Ireland - Greig Laidlaw
|Six Nations 2018: Ireland v Scotland|
|Venue: Aviva Stadium Date: Saturday, 10 March Kick-off: 14:15 GMT|
|Coverage: Live radio commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Radio Scotland. Live text commentary and report on the BBC website and app.|
Scotland fly-half Finn Russell could hold the key to overcoming Grand Slam-chasing Ireland on Saturday, according to his half-back partner Greig Laidlaw.
After below-par performances against Wales and France, Russell produced a stunning man-of-the-match display in the Calcutta Cup victory over England.
And scrum-half Laidlaw says he could be the difference in Dublin.
"When he's in that confident mood, we feel as though we can break any defence in the world," said the 32-year-old.
"We'll need him to play well on Saturday.
"It's brilliant to play alongside him. The players around him, in the back division and the forwards, love having him there as he has such a sharp pass."
Russell was criticised heavily after the 34-7 defeat by Wales in Cardiff. He was then withdrawn after 65 minutes in the win over France, with head coach Gregor Townsend shifting Laidlaw from scrum-half to number 10.
The fly-half, who will join French side Racing 92 in the summer, put those travails behind him to show his class against England, and Laidlaw was never in any doubt the his team-mate would find his game.
"I wasn't worried about him, I felt he was in a good place," said Laidlaw, who helped his club side Clermont Auvergne to victory over La Rochelle in the Six Nations break weekend.
"I thought Finn was exceptional against England. He's a world-class player.
"He may have had a couple of sticky moments in the first two games but you are never going to get it all your own way in Test rugby.
"When Finn's having tough times, it's about players chipping in on either side of him to make sure we are all pulling in the same direction.
"Finn's a strong character, he likes a laugh and a joke but he's serious about his rugby and that's a side some people don't see from him.
"He's determined and such a hard worker in training on his skill set and that shone through in the game."
'If we are serious about the title, we need to win'
Ireland have not lost a home Six Nations match in the five years head coach Joe Schmidt has been at the helm.
Having helped Scotland end England's Grand Slam hopes, Laidlaw believes repeating the trick against the Irish will be an even tougher test.
"In the context of the Six Nations now, it is a bigger challenge," he added. "If we are serious about challenging for the title then we need to win this game and clearly Ireland are unbeaten [this season].
"They are going well for a reason as they are a very good side. It's going to be a huge test for us and one which we need to meet head-on and we are looking forward to it."