Robinson Seeking The Right Blend As Options Narrow

Andy Robinson - Courtesy of SRU/PA

It seems unlikely there will be many new faces when Andy Robinson names his Scotland squad later this week for the summer tour Down Under, with only 28 places available on the plane to Australia.

Robinson is likely to keep faith with the majority of the squad involved in this year’s Six Nations, with soon-to-be-qualified try machine Tim Visser certain to travel, and expected to be the only new face in the squad. Visser’s inclusion was always going to come at this stage given his club form, and he will probably replace injured Edinburgh team-mate Lee Jones.

Alasdair Strokosch will come back into contention after missing the latter half of the Six Nations, giving Robinson more options in the back-row, where Richie Vernon is also set for a recall as David Denton recovers from an ankle ligament injury.

Question marks have been raised over the form of veteran prop Allan Jacobsen in recent months, and for that reason, Jon Welsh is likely to travel following his impressive performances for Glasgow, and his international debut against Italy. There has been talk in some quarters of ‘Chunk’ being rested for the tour, so Ryan Grant may find himself on the plane.

One area where Robinson may be forced into experimenting, and bringing in a new face, is at lock. With Jim Hamilton suspended and Nathan Hines retired, Glasgow lock Tom Ryder would seem favourite to come into the squad, with Rob Harley’s versatility adding a fourth second-row option.

Behind the pack, Robinson is somewhat short on options, with Rory Lamont and Nikki Walker long-term injury absentees, and Visser not available for the first match against the Wallabies. Joe Ansbro‘s return to fitness and form is a timely boost, and he may well fill the number 12 jersey with Nick De Luca again outside him. Max Evans and Stuart Hogg would provide the other back-three options.

What of the likes of Hugo Southwell and Simon Taylor, though? The pair have been in form and it looks, on paper, a squad bereft of experience, especially behind the scrum. Southwell was awarded London Wasps’ Players Player of the Year, and could offer something different from or perhaps in tandem with the mercurial Hogg.

Whatever Robinson chooses to do, it is sure to be a tough examination of his coaching ability, and of his players, as they aim to put right the results that have seen Scotland plummet to 11th in the world rankings.

7 responses to this article

  1. De Luca is the big should-he-shouldn’t-he decision for me. He played some good rugby, especially in defence, in the 6 Nations but also lost his composure too easily leading to yellow cards, so can he be relied on? Every Glasgow fan will suggest that Alex Dunbar should take his place.

    I think the front has to be Glasgow based, although Ford will be picked anyway. I’d like to see Pat MacArthur get a run out, his throwing was bad add the weekend but only as bad as Fords!

  2. MJW said:

    I’d say the young players that must go, if I am to have any confidence in AR’s willingness and ability to dispense with under performing players and rebuild the team, are –

    Matt Scott, Tom Brown, Alex Dunbar and Rob Harley.

    AR needs to sort out the centre partnership and create a creative, settled 12/13 axis. Matt Scott, on form, should be our starting 12. I struggle to see what Morrison can offer us anymore. Ansbro and de Luca to tussle over the 13 shirt, and Dunbar to cover both inside and outside centre in reserve.

  3. Rory Baldwin said:

    Pretty sure Brown will go unless he picks Southwell out of the blue, otherwise we will be very short on fullbacks. Would be very interested in seeing a Scott/Ansbro axis…

  4. MJW said:

    “Would be very interested in seeing a Scott/Ansbro axis…”

    Yes, yes and thrice yes. That would be my first choice pairing. I wouldn’t be too fussed if Robbo kept the Scott/NDL combo that works so well for Edinburgh, but I think Ansbro adds a little bit more fizz in attack.

    • Rory Baldwin said:

      Every time the blog guys and I have met up, we have discussed what a huge miss Ansbro was during the 6N. His loss caused a fair amount of reshuffling!

  5. Matto said:

    This all sounds very sensible. I would also like to see Scott and Dunbar taken along as we really need to develop our international midfield. I also hope Tom Brown gets a run too. I haven’t really seen much of Southwell this season, so can’t really comment. I strongly suspect that S. Lamont or Morrison will feature somewhere in the backline as Robinson likes to add the bulk. However, I hope that this will primarily be looked upon as a chance to develop young players and that both coaches and supporters will view the games with an eye to the future. It’s nice to have the option of some young players with a bit of flair and half back possibilities that could bring heads up attacking rugby. Hopefully they all get used and encouraged to play with their instincts.

  6. ali smith said:

    lets hope whoever Robinson picks in midfield create space for visser who has proven to be one of the best finishers in the game.