Sam Skinner may not be sporting a swagger to go with his handlebar moustache but the giant Scotland lock admits he is walking even taller on the back of his European exploits with Exeter.
The 25-year-old is doing his bit for Movember with some impressive bristles on his upper-lip but it was only a month ago that he and his Chiefs colleagues Stuart Hogg, Jonny Gray and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne survived a close shave with Racing 92.
The Premiership champions had just enough to see off Finn Russell’s swashbuckling Parisians to claim their first-ever Heineken Champions Cup.
— Exeter Chiefs (@ExeterChiefs) October 12, 2020
It was a breakthrough result which has firmly established Rob Baxter’s Sandy Park outfit amongst the European elite and Skinner is still basking in the glory of his accomplishments at club level.
But the 6ft 5ins forward believes he is not the only member of Gregor Townsend’s squad who has grown with confidence in recent months, with the Dark Blues hoping to make it six wins in a row for the first time since 1990 when they face France at Murrayfield on Sunday in their second Autumn Nations Cup clash.
“I definitely don’t have a swagger, especially with this hangman moustache which I’m wearing on my face at the minute,” laughed Skinner.
“But there is definitely a confidence you get, you can feel that with the Exeter boys.
“We also have players in the Glasgow and Edinburgh sides who have also won massive games and been extremely successful so – across the board – everyone knows how to win.
“For me personally, I’ve learned from previous losses and now I’ve learned from some recent wins. We are constantly learning and these experiences are only going to help going forward.
“There is no swagger and what is good about our culture is that everyone is pretty humble. It’s all about working hard and there’s no egos which is nice.
“But confidence can’t be a bad thing as the more success we have at our own clubs, hopefully that will reflect on the Scotland squad as well.
“Me and the other Chiefs lads came into the camp a little bit later than the rest of the boys and the culture has been brilliant to be honest. It feels like a winning culture.
— Exeter Chiefs (@ExeterChiefs) October 19, 2020
“Obviously the results have spoken for themselves and this will be our biggest test so far with the big game at the weekend.
“The culture is very good and feels quite similar to the Chiefs in that respect. Hopefully we can add what we’ve learned with our experiences at Exeter.
“But I’ve certainly enjoyed coming to the camp and the fact there are four of us now is a nice feeling.”
Skinner came off the bench late against Les Bleus back in March as Scotland completed the second leg of their current winning streak with a 28-17 triumph against a side which played 44 minutes a man down after Mohamed Haouas was sent off for punching Jamie Ritchie.
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) November 17, 2020
Scotland are unlikely to get a similar favour against a team Townsend’s currently rates as the world’s form outfit but Skinner believes his team are capable of causing another upset.
“Hopefully the result will be the same again this weekend,” he said. “We definitely believed we could win last time round and we put in a performance last time round that we knew we could do.
“That’s going to be the plan this weekend, to do what we did last time and back it up.
“If we’re physical, if we’re aggressive I’m sure we can get the job done.”