It seems like only yesterday that Vern Cotter was leading Scotland to a win over the USA in Houston.

It was nearly three years ago though and as we know nothing stands still in professional sport.

And on Saturday afternoon the Kiwi, who rarely gives much away, will be in charge of the team for one last time when they take on Italy at BT Murrayfield in the 6 Nations (12.30pm).

Some would be emotional at the thought, but, outwardly anyway, for Cotter it is business as usual.

“For me this week has all been about liaising with the medical team, lifting the boys after England and putting together a game plan to beat Italy,” the Head Coach said.

“I haven’t been doing things any differently because it is my last game and the players have not been allowed to either.

“They’ve got plenty of other things to think about. First and foremost is playing for themselves and the people that support them. We would like to see them put in a great performance they can be proud of.

“There’s a lot of emotional things after the game against England. We were first and foremost disappointed that the game turned out the way it did. We know England are a very good team.

“We came unstuck early with the yellow card and injuries, and we were frustrated that we couldn’t hold them back.”

At his final pre-match press briefing Cotter was asked how he felt he had changed the side in the last three years?

“I would do the question an injustice if I answered it briefly. It’s a whole dynamic of how a team and people grow, so I could be here for a long time talking about that,” he explained.

“The experience, the training, the testing under pressure, the decision making, it’s all part of a team performance.

“I think, first and foremost, you start with culture. Which is, in fact, your mindset. But how you develop your game is about how skilful you become. If you are more skilful, the more options you have. If you get faster and more physical, the more options you have.

“And then you need something to keep you earthed, which is your culture and your beliefs – a lot of things we’ve worked on over the three years.”

Thanks to David Gibson/FOTOSPORT for the photo of Vern Cotter and the injured Greig Laidlaw at the Captain’s run on Friday

‘Keep It SCRUM’ for all the news and views about the 6 Nations tournament – and read SCRUM 92 here

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