It was only a matter of inches.
A slightly different bounce or a little more reach—that was all that separated stand-off replacement Greig Laidlaw from becoming a hero for Scotland last weekend against England.
In just 23 minutes of play, Laidlaw impressed Scotland coach Andy Robinson enough to earn a spot in the starting XV this weekend against Wales. Although it will be his first start at the No. 10, Laidlaw does not plan on blinking.
"It's something I don't want to shy away from," Laidlaw said yesterday via Scotsman.com.
"I've been playing well and I wanted to make the step up to the international level, and I was looking forward to taking my chance. Now the first thing I need to do is what I do for Edinburgh, because that's what put me in this position in the first place."
Laidlaw's outspoken confidence is something many critics felt was missing from the freshly retired Dan Parks' game. After an up and down eight-year career with Scotland, Parks walked away from international rugby on Tuesday.
With Ruaridh Jackson, Robinson's preferred fly-half, recovering from injury, Laidlaw has stepped into the roll with enthusiasm and aplomb.
Formerly a scrum-half, Laidlaw's versatility has also been a virtue for the young player. Robinson praised the 26-year-old converted No. 9 yesterday when he spoke with the media.
"He is a gifted footballer who is acclimatising very well to the differing demands of the stand-off position from having spent most of his career at scrum-half," Robinson said. He also alluded to the need to develop young talent at the stand-off.
Still, Laidlaw and his teammates will be up against an extremely talented Welsh side looking to move another step closer to becoming Six Nations champions. Laidlaw will need to bring his best effort if Scotland expects to play an expansive game and win in Millennium Stadium.