GAVIN HASTINGS, Alan Tait and Gregor Townsend are three of the most exciting players to have ever pulled on a Scotland rugby jersey.

By the time their playing careers were over, this trio were equal on 17 tries each for their country. A fourth joined that band on Saturday.

Stuart Hogg, but of course it was, will surely soon pass Chris Paterson who crossed the line 22 times, and one day will beat the record of 24 jointly held by Ian Smith and Tony Stanger.

At 25-years-old he has 55 caps. It is conceivable, if not probable, that by the time the full-back is finished he will have plundered the all-time appearance record as well.

“I wasn’t aware of that. It’s pretty cool,” was Hogg’s take on drawing level with his current Scotland head coach plus the two others who comfortably come under the word legend.

“It was right place, right time for that try. We got ourselves into some good positions at times and fortunately the ball bounced into my hands.”

The ball always seems to bounce into Hogg’s hands. Fortune has little if anything to do with it.

Sure, against Samoa on Saturday, the rugby ball acted like it can by kicking off the pitch as if it had landed on a trampoline, which gave Scotland’s talisman a clear run under the posts less than two minutes into the game.

Even in a game when scoring opportunities are limited – next week’s visit of the All Blacks comes to mind – Hogg is capable of sniffing out a chance nobody else would spot.

“I feel good,” said the Glasgow Warriors man. “I worked incredibly hard in the off-season to get back fit because I really wanted to make a difference when I came back.

“There are a few areas of my game that I need to work on because there were a couple of little mistakes I was disappointed with, but I will analyse it and look to learn and improve.”

He might have made it 18 tries had Australian referee Nic Berry not blown for an obstruction just as Hogg was about to beat his fourth Samoan with the white line in front of Murrayfield’s south stand in his sights.

“That was frustrating,” he admitted. “There is a lot of inconsistency with that law. Some referees will let it go and some won’t. I had beaten the guy who was smack, bang in front of me. But these things happen.

“The game was scrappy. Credit to Samoa, they really brought it to us and we struggled to get our game going at times. When it worked for us we were scoring points. There’s a lot to take out of that game and a lot to learn and improve. We got the win and we’re delighted with that.

“For us, our basic skills let us down at times. Our catch-pass, number to breakdowns, width and depth on the ball - these are little areas we work incredibly hard on through the week but they didn’t come off for us at times.

“We pulled the boys in just before half-time and said we need to go back to basics and off the back of that we scored two cracking tries. When we get the basic things right we are a very good team.”

And now comes what could be described as sport’s biggest test. Beating New Zealand.

Scotland did give the Black a scare in Edinburgh back in 2017. Greg Laidlaw missed a simple enough kick late in the game which would have out his side ahead. The 24-16 result flattered the visitors who will be at full strength come this weekend.

“We are more than capable of knocking them over,” said Hogg. “We fully believe we can go out there and get a victory. If you don’t believe that you’re in the wrong place.

“We were ten minutes away from winning that game a few years ago. We will learn from that as well. We know what the All Blacks are capable of but we will have a game-plan ready to go. What better opportunity than to play the all Blacks at home, the best team in the world? Bring it on.

“I was bitterly disappointed not to play them in the summer with the Lions.

“ Hopefully I get an opportunity next week to take them on. It’s an honour and privilege to be in a Scotland jersey and hopefully we can knock them over.”

The worry is that as Samoa knocked Scotland over quite a bit last Saturday, the ran in five tries to the Scots’ six, for things to improve defensively then the next few days are crucial.