BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
STUART Hogg has set his sights on winning the Six Nations in future after he lifted this year’s player of the championship award.
The Scotland full-back beat off competition from the likes of England’s number eight, Billy Vunipola, who finished second, and Wales winger George North, who ended the public vote for the accolade in third.
With Ireland scrum-half Conor Murray, England winger Jack Nowell and Italy captain Sergio Parisse also trailing in his wake, Hogg polled almost 31 per cent of the vote, just three per cent ahead of Vunipola.
The 23-year-old adds his name to the likes of Ireland and Lions legends Brian O’Driscoll and Paul O’Connell, Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny and England counterpart Mike Brown in scooping the award and described the feeling as ‘amazing’.
The Borderer was presented with the trophy by Glasgow Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend at training yesterday and was typically quick to praise his team-mates’ role in his personal achievement.
Asked for his reaction to winning, he said: “It’s pretty cool, to be honest.
“I was just doing my job and thankfully I got a couple of tries and a good amount of ball.
“Everybody’s done their job for me and I’m really happy with (the award). It feels amazing.”
Hogg took his caps tally to 43 by starting all five of Scotland’s Six Nations matches and he produced three stand-out moments that helped him win the award.
The statistics show the Hawick man laid on three tries, scored two himself, made 379 metres with ball in hand, beat 17 defenders and made five clean breaks.
But it will be his overhead tip-pass that laid on Tim Visser’s try in the victory over France, his scorching break from his own half for a stunning solo score in the defeat to Ireland and his sublime offload to Tommy Seymour in the win against Italy that caught the eye the most.
It is the kind of individual brilliance that have made him many former players’ early choice for the number 15 jersey on next year’s British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand.
However, the fans’ favourite is first eyeing greater success in the dark blue of Scotland after being encouraged by the progress made by Vern Cotter’s team in this year’s Six Nations.
In an interview with Scottish Rugby, he added: “I did (enjoy my rugby). It’s always good playing for Scotland and even better to get a couple of wins on the board.
“I think, for us, that’s the minimum standard, to get a couple of wins.
“We are more than capable of winning championships, so, from now now, we just keep building on this.
“It’s always an honour to pull on the Scotland jersey.
“The highlight was the two wins we got. Over in Italy, it’s never an easy place to go but the boys stuck at it there and, obviously, the win at home against France as well.
“We worked incredibly hard over the few weeks we were away and to get those two wins was amazing for us.”