Scotland coach Vern Cotter has revealed that two victories would constitute a 'pretty good Six Nations' for a side that have found wins hard to come by in the competition for a number of seasons.
Positive noises have been emanating from the Scotland camp ahead of their championship opener against Ireland at Murrayfield on Saturday, but Cotter insisted that his side will not underestimate the task at hand.
“We’re excited by the start of the Six Nations,” the New Zealander told RTÉ Sport.
“The players have come together and there is a bit of confidence within the group.
“There’s a very realistic approach to the Six Nations. We know that Ireland are playing exceptionally well.
“Northern hemisphere rugby, in general, played well over the autumn series, but Ireland led the way with victories over New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.
“It’ll be a great challenge for the players.
“They’re looking forward to getting a start and measuring themselves against probably the best opposition in the Six Nations.”
While many regard Scotland as underachievers in the competition in recent seasons, it isn’t a viewed share by Cotter, who said: “I’d probably disagree, if you look at world rankings.
“Our objective this year is to push the hierarchy a bit and see if we can mix it up against the teams ranked ahead of us.”
Cotter will be replaced by Gregor Townsend in June, and his own hopes for his final campaign in charge may underwhelm more optimistic Scotland fans.
“If we can get two wins, we’d consider that a pretty good Six Nations,” he said.
The upturn in fortunes for Scotland’s leading club Glasgow has helped buoy confidence, with the Warriors reaching the knockout stages of the Champions Cup for a first time.
“I think you’ve got to get into knockout situations to improve your game, and Glasgow have got into Europe for the first time with a lot of Scottish internationals, it’s a good thing.
“And it breeds confidence and that confidence is important.”
Looking ahead to Ireland’s game plan this weekend, the Scotland boss said: “Its based on putting a squeeze on you.
“It’s based on territory, holding the ball, a very good lineout.
“A lot of their play comes from lineouts - they’re well drilled.
“They’re a team that are very efficient once they get their game in motion.”
Live Six Nations coverage of Scotland versus Ireland on RTÉ Two from 1.30pm on Saturday (KO 2.25pm) and live radio commentary on RTÉ Radio 1’s Saturday Sport programme from 2pm. Live coverage of Scotland v Ireland in the Women’s Six Nations on RTÉ Two from 6.30pm (KO 6.35pm) on RTÉ 2, with live radio updates and reaction on an extended 2FM Game On programme at 7pm. Live coverage of Scotland v Ireland in the U20's Six Nations on RTÉ Two from 8.15pm (KO 8.30pm)