England captain Dylan Hartley says he has “never prepared for a game so well” as he has for the Scotland match because people want him to fail.
The 29-year-old Northampton hooker, who has been banned for a total of 54 weeks, has succeeded Chris Robshaw as captain for the Six Nations.
“The captaincy thing, the whole media circus – the sideshow that I don’t really want to do but I understand that I have got to do – and everyone wanting to see me muck up is making me prepared for this game in a good way,” he said.
England coach Eddie Jones, who replaced Stuart Lancaster after the World Cup, made Hartley his captain, demoting Robshaw – who also starts at Murrayfield in the Six Nations opener.
“Everyone wants to see people fail, don’t they?” said Hartley. “I just know it is out there, for whatever reason.
“It’s my fault – I’ve created this story – but it isn’t something I look back at. I’m pretty excited to be here. I’m prepared and not overplaying it.
“Looking back on where things have gone wrong in the past, it’s maybe because when games are so big I build something up, so I’m just trying to focus on myself this week.”
Conor O’Shea, Robshaw’s director of rugby at Harlequins, told BBC Radio 5 live: “I told him to stop apologising about things, be proud of what you’ve done and go back and prove what you are – the best back-row forward in England and Europe for some time.
“I’m sure there are a few snipers who’ll want to try to have a go at him again because he’s an easy target. But Chris, for his whole life, has reacted to adversity.
“He’s an incredible role model for people – I hope he’s man of the match this weekend playing at six, where he’s played for us for a number of years.”