ANDY Robinson today predicted that the blistering form of Glasgow star Stuart Hogg can help Scotland challenge for the RBS 6 Nations title.
Robinson quit as coach of the national team last November after three successive defeats to New Zealand, South Africa and Tonga in the Autumn Internationals.
But the Englishman, who was this week appointed Director of Rugby at Bristol, has been impressed with the job his successor Scott Johnson has done since then.
Scotland bounced back from their opening day defeat to England at Twickenham with an emphatic win over Italy at Murrayfield earlier this month. The highlight of that 34-10 triumph – over a team on a massive high after a historic win over France in Rome – was undoubtedly Hogg's wonder try.
The Warriors full-back intercepted a Luciano Orquera pass deep inside his own half and ran fully 85 yards before touching down.
Robinson believes Scotland can go into the showdown with injury-ravaged Ireland in Edinburgh on Sunday full of confidence with the back playing so well.
"Scotland did very well to recover from their defeat to England on the opening day with a very convincing win over Italy," he reflected.
"I think it is important that they have managed to get a victory on the board so early in the competition. That is not something that has happened in years gone by.
"In the past, we would tend to pick up results towards the end of the campaign when the damage had already been done in terms of the tournament.
"But now Scotland have a genuine chance to challenge for honours having got a good win in just their second game. Having the Ireland game at home, too, will help them."
Robinson added: "I think they have a lot of players in good form on the evidence of the Italy performance and Stuart Hogg looks as if he is on fire.
"He is the sort of talented individual who can create something out of nothing and when he is in the mood he can be a dangerous weapon.
"I am sure Ireland will be desperate to bounce back from their narrow defeat to England and get their own challenge for the tournament up and running again.
"But Scotland have home advantage, something that always makes a significant difference to their chances, and their opponents have a few injury problems to contend with.
"If Scotland can get a result in this outing and build up some momentum then I see no reason why they can't challenge for honours in this year's tournament.
"With any luck, Hogg will be able to replicate the display he produced against Italy against Ireland and help Scotland run up their second straight win."