Six Nations: Scotland can inspire nation with 'totemic players' - Mark Dodson

Media playback is not supported on this device

Six Nations: Scotland 25-13 England highlights
Six Nations Championship: Ireland v Scotland
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Date: Saturday, 10 March Kick-off: 14:15 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, BBC Radio Ulster, BBC Radio Scotland & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary.

Gregor Townsend's Scotland team have the ability to change the mood of the nation, believes Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson.

The Scots, with two wins from three games, play unbeaten Ireland in Dublin on Saturday in the penultimate round of the Six Nations.

"Victories like the one a fortnight ago against England can make the whole country feel better," says Dodson.

"When you have a breakthrough moment like we did in the Calcutta Cup, it just sends a message out there that this is something real now.

"I remember the moment Ireland transitioned into contender status and I feel we are in that moment now and hopefully we can carry on.

"We don't take anything for granted. We understand that it can fizzle out quite quickly. It's a fickle business, but we've got strength in depth now and we have coaching in depth.

"We have a confidence and a professionalism around the squad that we've never seen before."

Scotland face a formidable task on Saturday. Ireland are not only chasing what would be, if they were to win, the fourth leg of a potential Grand Slam, they're also unbeaten since 2013 at home in the Six Nations under their coach Joe Schmidt. They have won their last eight Tests at the Aviva Stadium and their last 10 in all.

'We need totemic players in Scottish rugby'

The visitors are considerable underdogs with questions remaining about their ability to win away from home in the Six Nations.

Their last two missions on the road have been nightmarish, a huge drubbing at Twickenham and a demoralising loss in Cardiff. Townsend believes that lessons have been learned. Saturday will be the ultimate test of that.

"There has been, and will be, road bumps, but this is the first sustained recovery for 15-20 years," Dodson told BBC Scotland.

"We need totemic players in Scottish rugby. When I first came in [September 2011], Richie Gray was the only totemic player we had. Now every kid wants to be Stuart Hogg or Finn Russell. They probably want to be Huw Jones now as well. Blair Kinghorn might be the next one.

Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell celebrate a Scotland victory
Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell have been key figures in Scotland's success in recent years

"We have a team that people can name. The general public know who these people are and it's massive for us. We want our players to be household names. It can only benefit the sport.

"Winning impacts on the grassroots. It's a kid saying, 'I want to play football but I also want to play rugby. I want to be like Finn or Hoggy'. Without those superstars to look up to, it's pretty hard to get your sport on the move.

"Now, as we get better, everybody else gets better. It's a hard world out there, but we're playing an exciting brand of rugby, it's a bit maverick, it puts a spring in everybody's step when we win. Saturday will be a massive test against an incredible Irish team, but we're improving all the time.

"We're still a work in progress, but this side is only going to get better. Gregor is changing the way we play and he's instilling a massive confidence in the players. We still have our moments, like we did in Wales, but the way they came back against France was impressive.

"We showed a maturity in the last two games that we haven't seen before. Ireland will pose another problem but these are problems you want to have. It's a step-up again.

"I want us to be in the picture at this stage of the season instead of being seen as a team for fifth or sixth. I want us to be seen as contenders."

Six Nations table ahead of the foruth round of matches