2005 Lions tourist Chris Cusiter is desperate to become a Lion for the second successive time later this summer.
The 26-year-old Perpignan scrum-half is currently the second choice Scottish No9 behind national captain Mike Blair but he is hoping he will be given enough game time in the forthcoming Six Nations to press his claims for place in the squad to tour South Africa.
“It’s been a while since I played for Scotland and, although there’s a long way to go, I‘ve still got ambitions for this summer’s tour with the Lions,” said Cusiter, whoi has 39 Scotland caps to his name.
“Four years ago I was playing regularly for Scotland and went on the tour to New Zealand but if I go this time it will be through the back door.
"But all I want to do is to play well for Perpignan and get involved in the Six Nations.”
That Six Nations campaign for Scotland, who finished joint-bottom in the championship last season, begins against tournament favourites Wales at Murrayfield, a game which Cusiter feels his team are more than capable of winning.
“Our chances of beating Wales are good,” added Cusiter.
”Obviously they will be the favourites for the championship because they’ve got some great players.
“But we showed really positive signs in the autumn and should have beaten South Africa. The first game at Murrayfield will be huge and that will set up the rest of the tournament.
“The opening game is the best time to face Wales. It’s so important to get momentum and being at home will give us the advantage.”
Cusiter starred in Scotland’s last Six Nations triumph over the dragons’ in the wind-swept capital in a 21-9 victory back in 2007. And the former Border Reivers star reckons a resurgent Scottish nation have the strength upfront to cause an upset once more.
“We beat Wales at home two years ago and we all know Murrayfield is a tough place to visit.
“We’ve got a strong forward pack with Euan Murray, Jim Hamilton and Nathan Hines playing particularly well and we’re capable of being really physical.
“We will need that to compete because we can do well against anyone in the Six Nations.
“And the players are really confident. Glasgow’s win over Toulouse in the Heineken Cup was great for Scottish rugby. They were brilliant and it’s their best-ever result.
“I’d also been getting stick from my Perpignan team-mates about Castres winning at half-time against Edinburgh but they came back and won. It’s a real sign that Scottish teams are moving forward.”