Former Wales captain Rob Howley has paid tribute to Scotland star Chris Paterson on the eve of him joining international rugby’s 100-cap club.
Paterson will reach the century mark in tomorrow’s RBS 6 Nations clash at the Millennium Stadium.
He becomes only the 11th player to hit that landmark for his country, emulating former Test stars like George Gregan, Philippe Sella, Jason Leonard, Percy Montgomery and David Campese.
But in addition to his milestone feat, Wales know Paterson presents a considerable threat towards them maintaining an eight-year unbeaten home record at Scotland’s expense.
“He is one of the most consistent goalkickers in world rugby, and what an accolade to achieve 100 caps,” said Wales backs coach Howley.
“He jumps into that group of players who have done it, and he’s only 31.
“He is a very intelligent rugby player. He has got that ability to put Scotland in areas of the field in terms of his kicking, and I am sure we will see that on Saturday afternoon.
“Our discipline has to be pretty important.
“We can’t afford to give away any silly penalties in the contact area, or any other area, for that matter.”
As if to back up Howley’s point, Paterson has landed his last 34 successive Six Nations goal-kicks.
Remarkably, he has not missed in the tournament since a conversion attempt hit the post against France in Paris on March 17, 2007.
Wales, unlike before last week’s England opener when they lost Lions front-row forwards Gethin Jenkins and Matthew Rees to injury, have reported a clean bill of health.
Jenkins has recovered from the calf problem that sidelined him for Twickenham, and he is fit to take his place on the bench as back-up to props Paul James and Adam Jones.
Wales forwards coach Robin McBryde said: “Gethin is all right, he is fit and will take his place on the bench.
“It is a big boost for us – he’s a world-class player.
“He makes an impact from the start of the game, so hopefully he will have the same sort of effect when he comes off the bench as well.”
Wales must beat Scotland to give themselves any chance of winning this season’s Six Nations title, knowing another defeat following a 30-17 loss against England would render them tournament also-rans.
And Howley underlined the importance of the 2008 Six Nations champions returning to winning ways.
He added: “We are coming back home to the Millennium Stadium in front of the greatest fans in world sport.
“We’ve lost against England first up, and we want to get back on the winning track. There is a winning habit and a losing habit, and we need to get back to winning ways.
“Every international match is an arm-wrestle, and for 30 minutes against England we were in that arm-wrestle and we were quite happy in terms of our defence. We pushed them back 25 metres a couple of times.
“But no doubt we need to improve – it’s a must-win game.”