In-form Ben White is relishing the opportunity he has been given by Gregor Townsend to establish himself as Scotland’s first-choice scrum-half.
The 24-year-old London Irish half-back only made his international debut a year ago but has ousted the more senior Ali Price from the number nine jersey for each of the Scots’ three Guinness Six Nations matches so far this year.
After scoring a try in the victory away to England, White also shone in the home win over Wales and Sunday’s spirited showing in the 32-21 defeat by France in Paris.
“It’s been a huge honour to get to pull on the nine jersey for Scotland in the first three games,” he said. “I thank Gregor a lot for the trust he’s shown in me and I hope I can repay that.
Until this year, Price had been a mainstay of Townsend’s Scotland starting XV, while Glasgow’s George Horne is another strong contender at scrum-half after jumping ahead of Price at club level. White is enjoying the challenge of trying to keep his place in the team.
“There’s always competition,” he said. “We have three very good nines and that’s what it is at this level.
“You always have good players around you pushing you on and you have to be at the top of your game every week to keep the shirt.
“Having that competition is only going to drive us on to be better as individuals and then collectively as a team so it’s good having that competition in training, knowing you have to be on your game. I love the challenge, I love the competition.”
White is encouraged by Scotland’s performance against France on Sunday, when they roared back from 19-0 down to get to 25-21 before the hosts killed off their hopes of a famous win with a late try.
“I thought we showed a lot of courage to come back from being 19-0 down and give ourselves a chance to win at the end,” he said. “I’m really proud of the performance in terms of how we stayed together as a group after the early red card.
“It could have gone completely the other way but we dug our heels in and grew back into the game. I thought we played some really good rugby. I felt France were there for the taking in the second half.
“We had them on the ropes but we just weren’t able to capitalise on that opportunity, which is frustrating but it’s also good to know we missed chances to take the game against a side ranked number two in the world. It shows we’re there and thereabouts.”
The Scots are second in the Six Nations table, five points behind leaders Ireland who they host in their next match. Victory in that would secure the Scots a first Triple Crown since 1990.
“We have a lot of belief that we can win the championship,” said White. “Being back at Murrayfield with our fans behind us is something we’re really excited about and the challenge of playing Ireland for the Triple Crown is awesome.
“We’re a good team and we’re confident in our ability so we’re really excited.”