Scotland look towards Australia

With the Six Nations now done and dusted and the Vern Cotter era at its conclusion, attention turns to the summer, where there are tour places to be won.

All eyes will be on the announcement of the British and Irish Lions squad to tour New Zealand on April 19, with a handful of Scots set to make the squad after an much-improved Six Nations – the calamity at Twickenham aside.

However, for new Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend, there is the small matter of a tour Down Under to contend with this summer, which begins against the Wallabies on June 17.

A week later, Townsend’s side face Fiji, while there are also plans for a repeat of Cotter’s finale to round off the tour against Italy. It’s a “quadrangular tournament” similar to the one played in South Africa in 2013, also a Lions Summer.

With a number of front-line stars out injured, and others set to be involved with the Lions, the tour may represent an opportunity for those on the fringes of the international squad to stake their claims.

Here’s how it breaks down.

Props – we’re unlikely to be hindered here; and may even have Al Dickinson and WP Nel back available, so maybe it’s a chance to look after 21-year-old tighthead Zander Fagerson, who’s played a lot of rugby over the last 12 months. On the other hand more exposure may help the Warriors prop develop further still. Jon Welsh was unlucky throughout the Six Nations, and should go as he can play on both sides.

In my squad: Gordy Reid, Al Dickinson, Allan Dell, WP Nel, Jon Welsh, Simon Berghan

Hooker – This may be a good time to rest Ross Ford – he’s 33 next month and Edinburgh have identified his long-term replacement in Stuart McInally, who should benefit from more international exposure as Fraser Brown’s back-up. We could see Pat MacArthur given another chance at Test level but behind him it’s starting to look a bit thin.

In my squad: Fraser Brown, Stuart McInally, Pat MacArthur

Lock – The Lions may help themselves to both doses of Gray, which would leave Townsend a touch short of locking options. Anton Bresler doesn’t qualify until later in the summer, so Scott Cummings could force his way onto the plane if he continues his current good form at Glasgow. We already know Toony is a fan. Gilchrist would perhaps fill Jonny Gray’s vice-captaincy, although Toony may not rate him as highly as Vern did.

In my squad: Tim Swinson, Grant Gilchrist, Ben Toolis, Scott Cummings

Back-row – John Hardie’s leg injury might keep him out of action; in any case it might be pertinent to rest the hard-hitting Edinburgh back-row. Josh Strauss and Dave Denton should return to bolster the breakaway contingent that performed so well during the Six Nations.

Expect Hamish Watson to come into Lions consideration, but miss out to more experienced campaigners, while Barclay may also be overlooked in favour of bigger/more powerful options. Should Scotland lose a back row to the Lions or to injury – Strauss for example may be rested – former U20s Number 8 Mitch Eadie of Bristol may be worth a look. He’s signed for Northampton Saints next season.

In my squad: David Denton, Ryan Wilson, John Barclay, Hamish Watson,  Josh Strauss, Cornell Du Preez

Scrum-half – Greig Laidlaw should be fit by the summer, but his absence during most of the Six Nations may see him miss out on a Lions place. The skipper should, therefore, return to don the dark blue, with regular deputies Price and Pyrgos also included. If Laidlaw is given time off, a chance could arise for Sam Hidlago-Clyne to discover his form but that would be quite a gamble.

In my squad: Greig Laidlaw, Ali Price, Henry Pyrgos

Stand-off – We’ve real problems finding a deputy to Finn Russell, who may be on Warren Gatland’s radar for the midweek squad, so Duncan Weir could be thrust into the limelight once more. Other experienced options come through Ruaridh Jackson and Peter Horne….with Laidlaw able to provide some cover.

Adam Hastings’ time will come but he’s a little unproven to throw him into a test against Australia.

In my squad: Duncan Weir, Ruaridh Jackson, Peter Horne

Centres – Huw Jones would have been relishing this tour. Fully fit after the Super Rugby season and on hard tracks, the Stormers centre could have been a revelation but news came this week that the hamstring injury sustained against Italy will keep him out for 4-5 months after surgery. Mark Bennett is also out injured and may not recover form in time. Alex Dunbar may still be in with an outside bet of making the Lions squad, if Gatland overlooks the Twickenham blip; that is unlikely.

Expect some degree of continuity here then, with whoever is left of the Six Nations group to return & Horne an extra option. With any luck Duncan Taylor will be back fit again and keen to show there’s still a place for him in the new coach’s plans. If Bennett doesn’t make it, Warriors centre Nick Grigg is the next cab off the rank.

In my squad: Alex Dunbar, Matt Scott, Duncan Taylor, Nick Grigg

Back-three – I’d expect probably two from Stuart Hogg, Sean Maitland and Tommy Seymour to be involved with Warren Gatland’s tour of New Zealand, so Townsend may need to look at other options Down Under. There is experience at Test level from Maitland and Visser, with an opportunity for one of Hughes, Hoyland or the in-form Lee Jones to join them in the starting back three.

Taylor could also force his way in as a winger if he can get a run of games at Saracens, and Blair Kinghorn should get a spot as full-back cover: but that will likely depend on Jackson’s involvement.

In my squad: Tim Visser, Rory Hughes, Damien Hoyland, Lee Jones, Sean Maitland/Tommy Seymour, Blair Kinghorn

My squad in full….

Backs (17): Greig Laidlaw, Ali Price, Henry Pyrgos, Duncan Weir, Ruaridh Jackson, Peter Horne, Alex Dunbar, Matt Scott, Duncan Taylor, Nick Grigg, Tim Visser, Damien Hoyland, Rory Hughes, Lee Jones, Sean Maitland/Tommy Seymour, Blair Kinghorn

Forwards (19): Gordy Reid, Al Dickinson, Allan Dell,  Fraser Brown, Stuart McInally, Pat MacArthur, WP Nel, Jon Welsh, Simon Berghan, Tim Swinson, Grant Gilchrist, Ben Toolis, Scott Cummings, David Denton, Ryan Wilson, John Barclay, Hamish Watson,  Josh Strauss, Cornell Du Preez

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78 comments on “Scotland look towards Australia

  1. Jamie Scott on

    I’m moving to Australia for six months so this is good news. Do we know the dates of the tests? Can’t find anything online about this tour.

    • Greengumbo on

      Oz game is 17th June – 3pm Sydney (6am Edinburgh time)
      Fiji game is 24th June

      Cant find details of Italy game anywhere. Why is it all so hard to find ?

  2. Andy N on

    As per article, we play Australia in Sydney on Sat 17 Jun and Fiji on the 24th. No date confirmed yet for the Italy test as far as I’m aware.

      • Alanyst on

        Singapore.

        Why are we playing Italy anyway given they’re in the 6N?…I’d rather we played some other team…Tonga maybe.

        Looking forward to the Fiji game

  3. TeamCam on

    It’s interesting how quickly Scots players were dropped from Lions consideration by pundits and commenters alike. Farrell and Ford were crap for 40% of the 6N, JJ played one good game, JD2 hasn’t done anything noteworthy other than gift England a match-winning try in forever, Warburton had a couple of good games, AWJ contributed to one good tackle and failed to lead, Rory Best managed a terrible line out, Kyle Sinckler didn’t do anything better than Fagerson, Itoje’s main skill appears to be avoiding YCs, Watson can’t find decent form with Bath or England, Ben Youngs has failed to perform since the AIs, CJS and SoB were neutralised against Scotland and Wales, Faletau and BV failed to make any impact returning from injury, Tipuiric was decent but didn’t do anything particularly eye-catching, L. Williams scored three tries but did little else, Marler got schooled by Furlong… and yet all these players are apparently ahead of the equivalent Scottish players who had one bad match despite being massively disrupted by injuries. I know it’s hard for people to get over the mentality that Scotland are shit, but there does seem to be a real injustice in this for the players.

    That said, money and reputation aside, I’d rather they were touring with GT than learning how to play losing rugby with Gatland and his esteemed attack coach.

    *Edited for bad language

    • BigAbe on

      100% my thoughts exactly. Wales have been very uninspiring for a long time now. After the Autumn tests Gatland clearly stated that he wasn’t interested in the Nov games and that the 6 Nations were the real testing ground for any potential Lions. Scotland have been consistently playing the best rugby and are now getting the results too. Other teams have not been playing great but managed to pull off maybe one good win. Scotland had an off day against England but this seems to be everyone’s excuse to write them off as Lions. Personally I would like Hogg and the other token Scot selected for Lions to tell Gatland to stick it and go on tour with the rest of the boys down under.

    • 1.8T on

      It’s all to do with reputation. Most of the players you mention have been successful and been part of a winning team. People remember winners, not losers, Scotland have historically been a team of losers. It will take time to get people out of that mindset, if we keep winning games the reputation will come. You need very good reasons to pick someone without reputation and you need very good reasons to not pick someone with reputation.

      A lot of people on here I think are being a bit selfish saying they would rather have everyone on tour with Toonie rather than the Lions. These guys are professional rugby players, it would be a highlight of anyone’s career to play for the Lions.

      • Merlot on

        Although many of the Scotland team have finally found a winning mentality, I don’t think it’s across the board, and certainly not when comparing with the England squad.
        I for one would like as many Scots with the Lions as possible. The experience, challenge and (dare I say it) learning from the best of the British Isles will catapult us to further improvement. If all our potential lions are selected to tour (Hogg, Seymour, Maitland, Dunbar, Russell, Laidlaw, Watson, both Grays, Brown, Fagerson) then I think we have a chance at the Grand Slam next year.
        If however, it’s just three or four (or just one or two), then the confidence in the side will wane and I can see us with just the two wins next year:- Italy away and France at home.
        I don’t see the benefit of these senior players touring with Toonie, who most of them know and work with anyway, compared with a Lions tour.

  4. The Chiel on

    Good article, but I think you’re way too optimistic on the Scottish Lions contingent. Gatland will be told to take 3 minimum ( as I am convinced he was told last tour ), and to bench one if possible. I’d like to be proven wrong, but Twickenham has put paid to many more than three.

    Hogg will go, possibly Jonny Gray, who deserves it but the competition for lock is unreal. I’d have said Jones pre injury because of his versatility, and he’s not seen by Gatland as really Scottish. For that reason maybe Maitland again who Gatland rates more than most Scots fans. Unfortunately both Grays are out and out locks unlike Itoje / Lawes, which may mean they both miss out. Watson is the only mover and shaker over the whole 6N and he might squeeze in.

    Gatland will no doubt get pelters on all the Scottish forums, but the harsh truth is too many failed the Twickenham final audition.

    • FF on

      Every game in the 6N is equally important. I think frustration comes from the ignorant attitude that our collapse at Twickenham is less important than beating the Irish or welsh, or Ireland losing in Cardiff, or Wales losing to everyone except Ireland and Italy. That is a nonsense and we seem destined to be lumbered with a squad of turkeys like halfpenny and j Davies when far better players are available.

  5. Andy on

    Even English propaganda rags like the Torygraph has 6 Scots in their selection (JG, Hamish, Finn, Dunbar, Seymour and Hogg) and said that Laidlaw and Nel would have toured if not injured.

    The number could be anywhere from 3 to 8 to be honest. So many 50/50 calls. Picking on form will only go so far as the likes of CJS and BV for instance are the best carriers on these Isles.

    I can see the squad being 3 or 4 bodies heavier than last time too as the club sides will be out to hurt our guys from the start. My prediction is for 6 Scots, 8 Welsh, 11 Irish and 14 English or thereabouts

  6. Ade on

    As far as Lions representation goes I think Scotland will be lucky to have 2 players in the touring party and they would be Hogg and Russell – and only because they have made the short leet for 6N player of the tournament. Everyone else will miss out due to the strength across the board in their respective positions. I hope I am wrong on this by about 6 players as it would be a huge boost to the whole squad and recognition of what they have achieved in the last couple of seasons. We shall see.

    As for the Scotland tour I think Gav has pretty much got it covered, and the players named reflect the developing strength in depth in most positions. The intention has to be to have 3 players in every position, all of whom are capable of performing at the top level.

    I would rest Fagerson – he is a young lad with lots of rugby ahead of him. Let WP come back in.

    Second row – having Cummings on tour would be great for his development.

    Back row – you also have Harley and Bradbury as options, so again, players can be rotated/rested.

    Scrum half – looks good with Laidlaw and Price fighting for the starting spot.
    Centre – even with Jones and Bennett crocked there is still a core of Dunbar/Scott/Taylor and Grigg has looked worth a run.

    Wings – Seymour/Maitland/Visser plus one other.

    The 2 positions where we don’t have real, powerful back-up is at 10 and 15, and that is where we might have a gap on tour. Weir/Jackson/Horne have had runs without nailing it, but at least 2 will go. If Hogg is in NZ is it Maitland with Kinghorn as understudy? Hard calls for Toonie in these positions, but I’m confident he will be looking to strike a balance between getting results and building for the future.

  7. RJ on

    Agree with many of the points mentioned. Think it would be a massive mistake to leave ZF out of the tour as every bet of experience he can gain can only be beneficial, with Nel hopefully back he may only have to play the last 20 mins and will be good for him to go on tour and be part of it all. Would definitely like to see Cummings, Kinghorn, Hastings and Grigg go as well to for similar reasoning. The likes of Jackson etc o don’t think are needed, we know what he can and can’t do so it’s worth taking the younger guys provided we do have enough other experienced characters to make up the squad.

    Regards the lions, we need to remember that this is the first year in a while we have won one, let alone two games against one of the other teams making up the lions. We hadn’t beaten wales for 10 years, England for ages and Ireland since that game in Dublin if memory serves me correctly? Point is consistency. Yes we have been much improved over the past couple of years but we didn’t manage to beat any of the aforementioned teams in 2015 and got trounced by one of them this year. As much as I’d like to have as many Scots in the race as possible, realistically the only standout player that’s head and shoulders above everyone else in his position is Hogg. All the other candidates mentioned can, on their day, more than justify a place but the other players in their positions have done it consistently for longer and in the one game where it was really on the line against England, they completely folded.

    Of all the ones mentioned (bar Hogg) think Watson may actually have the best chance of playing a test as there is no standout 7 for me, especially if stander and Vunipola play at 6 and 8 respectively. Watson may be a good foil with his work at the breakdown. Russell should go as cover and at least get a couple of midweek appearances, 2 MoM performances in the 6N deserve his inclusion.

    One wild card who I think will go if fit is WP. There are no standout tight heads, furlong will go but I think if Nel can perform well in the next couple of games for Edinburgh (if fit) then he will go.

    • RuggersB on

      I think Cummings, Kinghorn, McCallum , Bradbury need to be going….. possibly Hastings too considering our dearth of 10s. We need to give these young lads the best opportunities for growth we can and touring and preparing to play top class sides with the best senior pros is critical to expediting their development. We can’t afford to just sit back with these young players….we just dont have the player pool to do that. We need to expedite young talent.
      The Scotland team we are currently watching improve clearly isn’t at its peak yet…once we combine this upcoming wave with the young core of this 6nations is when, I believe, we will reach our peak.
      This tour is surely about GT getting ‘his team’ together and develop with next world cup firmly in mind.

    • TheSmidge on

      Regarding there being “no standout 7”, although your opinion, we can’t forget the absolute media love-in for Warburton and Tipuric at the moment. If Stander is nailed on for 6, then there is no way Gatland is going to look beyond those two for 7.

  8. RJD on

    Assuming he’s fit I fully expect Rory Sutherland to be involved in the summer tour. He’s just behind Dickinson and was his deputy until his injury.

  9. David B on

    I think Bradbury would be pretty unlucky to miss out, and I wouldn’t be massively surprised to see Rob Harley travel. A few of the younger lads might get to travel with the squad for the experience (you’ve mentioned Cummings and Kinghorn, but also potentially Jamie Richie).

    I don’t know what his injury status is, but I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Sutherland travel as for me he was ahead of Dell pre-injury.

    How’s this for a ‘bolter’ for our squad – has Alex Toolis been getting a game at the Rebels? Already in Aus and qualified, if he’s been playing SoopRugby then why not get him involved?

  10. Frazer on

    If Hogg is selected for the Lions then I would love to see Kinghorn at FB. I know he’s uncapped at senior level, but he’s solid in defence, exciting in attack, and I think he’s tailor made as Hogg’s understudy.

    I would also like to see Hastings in the squad, and maybe get a couple of the up-and-comers in to experience touring – perhaps get a look at Fagerson the younger.

  11. NewhavenBoy on

    I suspect our initial lions representation will be relatively thin but several players will get called up as replacements as we will be nearby. This probably allows a few of the injured players a chance like Nel.

    Like others I would like more Scots on the tour but we are probably a year early for that. I think we get three in the 23 at the moment for the 1test tops. Mainly because our standout players are in the strongest areas. None of our front row are near. (if you exclude Nel) Second row is crazy competitive. Back row too. I mean Falatau might not make it and he is excellent.
    Finn maybe…maybe but I am not sure. Hogg on the park at the start, Seymour and possibly Jonny G or Hugh Jones on the bench, thats if they tour well.

    I do think that we will have more by the end though. Injuries and form will be brutal. Somebody always comes from the tour dirt-trackers or even tour replacements.

    As to the Aussie tour. Is it a get to know you tour for Gregor or as you were? That probably defines who he takes. Will a couple of players that Vern has discarded come back as well? Maybe Blair Cowan for example. Or Jackson?

    • Al on

      Cowan shot his bolt declaring himself unfit for Scotland then turning out for LI six days later. We can’t be picking players who pull a “giggs” when it suits them. I expect to see Magnus, Kinghorn and lee Jones added to the six nations squad but very few of the outsiders like Rory Hughes, Ritchie etc getting a look in. Maybe Chris Dean if Taylor doesn’t regain fitness.

      • Andy on

        With everyone fit I would say that there are at least 4 (Watson, Hardie, Barclay, Wilson) better options than Cowan anyway.

      • Ade on

        Al, if this was when Cowan took a head knock then he had no choice in whether he played for Scotland or not. He failed the concussion return to play protocols and was therefore not eligible for selection for Scotland. When he played for LI six days later he had successfully passed the RTP protocol and so was able to play.

        At no point did Cowan, as the injured player, have any influence on this process, so he most definitely did not do a “Giggs”.

  12. Johnny John john on

    Re the Lion the current Wales side contains a core of players who have semi finalled in the RWC, won grand slams and championships and finished well up the table + Gatland knows them, so they probably will be overrepresented considering their current form.

    Are they in decline though? Certainly a lot of my Welsh friends think so, and that the cupboard of replacements is a bit bare.

    I think the Scotland backs should be represented. The entire back 3 must have a good shot and Finn Russell. Thanks to Twickenham Dunbar will probably lose out to Henshaw or Scott Williams. He could redeem himself with a performance against Saracens.

    From the forwards, Watson, Strauss and the Grays are in the frame, but I think they might even consider Barclay. I don’t think he’d usurp Stander but he’d be a perfect mid week captain and can play both sides in an area which is going to get a kicking.

    • Al on

      The Sarries game is the last chance to impress Fatland for Jonny, Finn, Fraser Brown and Alex Dunbar. Same goes for Maitland. He won’t watch the Pro12 run in and neither will any of the other coaches. If Edinburgh turn up for the LaRochelle game and Watson plays well, he’s got a chance, albeit an outside one.

  13. Borderer on

    I think the Lions selection will depend on the way Gatland wants them to play out there. If he goes for ‘Warrenball’, a big mistake as the AB’s deal with it easily, then he’ll probably only select Hogg, Nel, Watson and maybe J Gray. If, however, he decides to play a more open dynamic game, similar to the AB’s, and the only way to beat them in my opinion, then Seymour and Russell should also definitely be selected. I worry though that the England game will be the excuse Gatland needs to leave out some of our players. That would be wrong on players like Russell and Dunbar as everything conspired against us early on in that game and we did well to get back and score three tries; Jones, if fit, would have been a certain tourist, I didn’t see any better centres in the 6 nations.
    As far as the Scotland summer tour is concerned, GT should take his best available squad, and bring in some of our younger talent to replace Lions and injured players. We need to keep up the continuity of selection and winning games, both of which will add to the experience and confidence of the squad.

  14. Neil on

    Somthing Slightly Different
    a barbarians 23 to take on england at the end of may ? , exclude probable and potential lions.

    1. Cian Healy 2. Agustin Creevy 3. Ramiro Herrera 4. Lood De Jager 5. Leone Nakarawa 6. Peter O’mahony 7. Kevin Gourdon 8. Loius Picamoles 9. Baptise Serin. 10. Jimmy Gopperth 11. Virimi Vakatawa 12. Matt Scott 13. Gael Fickou 14. Charles Piatau 15. Isreal Falou
    – 16. Guilhem Guirado 17. Tendai Mtawarira 18. Zander Faegerson 19. Richie Gray. 20. Facundo Isa 21. Ali Price 22. Kurtley Beale 23. Jordie Barrett
    What would you guys pick ?

  15. Scrummo on

    1. Sutherland 2. Brown 3. Fagerson 4. Swinson 5. Toolis 6. Bradbury 7. Hardie 8. Strauss

    9. Price 10. Jackson 11. Hughes 12. Scott 13. Taylor 14. Hoyland 15. Kinghorn

    Dell, Ford, Welsh, Gilchrist, Du Preez, Laidlaw, Weir, L.Jones

    I’ve left out Nel, Dickinson, both Grays, Watson, Barclay, Russell, Dunbar, Jones, Visser, Maitland, Seymour and Hogg all as players with either injuries or a chance of going on the Lions tour however small for some. All of these who end up being available would likely slot into the XV with the others dropping back into the squad.

  16. JP on

    With the World Cup pot seeding secured and the 6 Nations the next major target, is the Summer tour not the ideal chance to get the younger players involved… Some of those players called out by Gavin are getting towards the end of their careers and haven’t shown consistent international class to date, so why persist?

    I’d look to be including players like Bradbury and Ritchie and some of the U20s who performed well such as Darcy Graham and Matt Fagurson… and why not take Adam Hastings and even Brandon Thomson who has looked good for Glasgow (and is Scottish qualified)? Play our strongest team against the Aussies, and give the younger ones game time against Fiji and Italy…

    Also, can we have some kind of separate Lions forum where all comments on the matter must be posted? Conjecture is an exercise in futility and I’d rather we have as many Scots as possible available to Toonie this Summer… a few more years of high quality 6N performances, a World Cup semi and regular late season European competition and then worry about the Lions… until then its all about the national team…

    • Rory Baldwin on

      As the article discusses both the tour and the Lions its valid for discussion in the comments on this article. Given the shadow of the Lions across all of British and Irish rugby at the moment, there will always be seepage. Futile conjecture may be, but it’s also quite fun…

    • Ade on

      Brandon Thomson in a Scotland squad? He’s only been here 5 minutes!! A Brendan Laney for a new generation? :0)

      • JP on

        I don’t see how Thomson is any different from Huw Jones or John Hardie… and 5 minutes is 5 minutes more than Hardie spent in Scotland before getting a call… he first set foot in the country to join the World Cup squad!!

        Thomson can play 10 and 15, two positions we’re not exactly blessed with depth… he’s young, confident and has looked pretty handy when playing for Glasgow…

      • Rory Baldwin on

        There is a suspicion that although qualified for us, Thomson is tied through the SA U20 side which were the nominated second team when he came through (but not when Dell did). Not heard definitive word on this though.

  17. JohnMc on

    Picking a squad for Down Under is really difficult this side of the Lions squad announcements and the end of the NH club season. The idea of taking the opportunity to blood some youngsters and increase the Test experience of others is very attractive. Still, I’m sure the tour management will be well aware of the need to pick a squad strong enough to protect our hard earned 5th place in the IRB rankings. The Australian Test will be very tough and, unlike the team they picked in 2011 to face us when their prime focus was on the upcoming Wales series, the Wallabies will surely select their strongest side. I don’t think our ranking will improve if we beat the Wallabies and I don’t think it will drop if we lose so long as we’re not stuffed. Rankings aside, it’s about time we beat them anyway after the last-gaspers in 15 and 16. Back to rankings, we certainly do not want to slip up on Italian and Fijian banana skins. Rankings aren’t silverware of course, but they are a matter of pride for a country like ours with such a small playing population.
    Slightly off topic, Hamish Watson is my pick for back-row bolter in the Gatland selection. There isn’t really a current British or Irish open-side quite like him on the Test scene, and if Gatland does want to adopt a style of play different to what we’re all used to with him, Hamish could be just what he needs!

    • Ross on

      All other things being equal, beating Australia would have a big effect on our rankings (+1.72 or so) as we are the away team. Currently not enough to take us any higher because of the gap to Ireland but it would really narrow it and push Australia down to 4th just above us. If by some miracle we beat them by 16 points or more that would put us up to 3rd.

      Losing to them would have a very small effect (-0.28), but that would be enough to drop us below France who are very close behind.

      • JohnMc on

        Thanks for that clarification, Ross. Some interesting permutations in there. Re France, I see they have a three match series in South Africa this summer, which will be hard, even against a Sprinbok side in something of a trough at the moment.

  18. Niddrie Exiler on

    Do we have any news on the severity of Huw Jones” hamstring tear? If it’s a grade 3, which I am assuming it is, then we must not rush him back otherwise it will be a recurring problem.

  19. Niddrie Exiler on

    This is not good news Rory, it would have been better if he had broken a bone, fibula even ankle. Dont want to be alarmist but a grade 3 is as bad as it gets bar the achilles so it’s fingers crossed for a successful rehab.

  20. Referendum on

    Hogg wins six nations player of tournament again but more importantly in my view is Finn Russell came fifth which means at least in public opinion he came out above many hotly tipped or previous lions in the vote.

    I dont agree that Scots are way ahead of others in the pecking order but many are deserving of their place on the plane before others. If Scotland had finished fifth with two wins no one would be surprised if they were totally ignored but Wales have players in many starting lineups.

    It stinks as much as the HIA in Paris

  21. Niddrie Exiler on

    The Daily *bleep* have been quick to rubbish the award as they are moaning that the nearest Englishman , Joe Launchbury, was only 5th.

    * Edited for swearing ;)

  22. Niddrie Exiler on

    Russell has done more in the six nations than Ford or Biggar and that should be very obvious to any rugby fan

    • FF on

      Reports from Allianz Park suggest that Ford collapsed behind a retreating pack and Bath ended up getting walloped and conceding no less than 6 second half tries.

      Gatland was there to watch so I wonder if Ford’s stock will be as affected by this result as Russell’s has been by Twickenham.

      I think Russell offered far more than either Ford or Biggar in the 6N and should be third choice behind Sexton and Farrell. I mean Biggar was intercepted three times in his one good performance against Ireland FFS.

  23. Andrew on

    Just seen Will Greenwoods Lions first 15. Normally respect his writing and most of it was reasonable – but put forward Farrell as captain. Leads from the front and steers the game when under pressure – will look the All Blacks in the eye and have their respect. England looked leaderless for large parts of 4 games in the 6 nations and I thought Farrell in particular went missing. Don’t get the obsession with him. But maybe I am developing an obsession with him myself. Finn got an honourable mention behind Sexton (I can take Sexton being frst choice). Hogg made the list but a close call with Mike Brown (was never great and is losing what he had – when was the last time you saw him ball in hand and felt fear?) Rant over.

    • Mikelinds on

      Fortunately Greenwood isn’t picking it. Unfortunately Fatland is. Like you I normally respect Greenwood’s opinion, generally not one eyed. But here’s the issue. Sexton should start, but is Mr. Glass and Farrell doesn’t fit Fatland’s ideal 12. Can the leopard change his spots?

      • The Chiel on

        I understand that after their continual amateur dramatics in the 6N, the 10 spot will be decided between Sexton and Biggar by who does the best YMCA performance.

      • Andrew on

        The YMCA idea is amusing. I am always nervous whe Finn plays – excited but concerned. And actually I think my nerves would be shredded if the whole of the UK was counting on our mercurial genius.

  24. Rampant on

    Now’s the time to develop the squad and I’d like to see it opened up to U20s and fringe players. Kinghorn, Hastings, Eadie and ideally the U20s hooker as MacArthur is getting a little long in the tooth

    • Mikelinds on

      Disagree. Hastings has hardly played any top level rugby, let him cut it for Glasgow next year first. I can see a case for Kinghorn, tough for him to shine in a struggling Edinburgh side. As for under 20’s there isn’t a gap it’s a chasm. Evolution is the order of the day IMO. Should be opportunities for the likes of Hoyland and Bradbury though.

  25. Donald Milne on

    For me, Ali Price is now best option at 9. Greig Laidlaw of course brings top rate place kicking and a cool head but there were 3 moments in the Connacht game when Price produced in a way that Greig can’t. 1. His own try was the sniping that Greig used to do but hasn’t the legs for anymore. 2. The try he made for Finn with a slip pass – FR ran the support line expecting Price to wrestle the ball free and pop it out – playing with Laidlaw I don’t think he would even have run that line, he’d have been expecting the ball to go to ground. 3. The try saving corner tackle on the Connacht wing showed serious pace. The pecking order has changed – Price to start and Laidlaw to come on as the cool head at the end.

    • Mikelinds on

      Like that thought! Start Price, then Laidlaw to close out if needed. But only if needed, no subbing off for the sake of it.

    • Andrew on

      Can’t disagree that there is a new order forming and part of that is due to the growing reliability of Finn’s place kicking. However, I rate Pyrgos and think he looked good at the end against Italy with a good looking pass and tactical nous. Others seem to think he is third in the list – I think he and Price should be battling it out to start. Why do folks on here not rate Pyrgos that highly?

      • Mikelinds on

        I think we might know a bit better after the summer. Not sure to what extent Price was ‘under orders’ when he stepped up. GT ought to have a better idea than anyone about Price v Pyrgos, and it may well be ‘horses for courses’ in the short term.

      • Bulldog on

        Pyrgos has not had a lot of rugby in the last year, couple of years, actually. Not sure what we can expect of him now, he was a good prospect when he was fit, however he will need a lot of game time to bring him to peak performance. Only then can we compare them.

      • 1.8T on

        He hadn’t been playing that well for Glasgow hence Price being the starting 9 for Glasgow recently and getting the Scotland gig. I agree though that he didn’t look bad the times he came on for Scotland, he has a good tactical game. Personally I do rate him, he is like halfway between Price and Laidlaw, not as fast and frantic as Price but not as slow and methoidcal as Laidlaw, he should really be ideall combo of the two, but his form has been lacking of late. I don’t know why but I can see Laidlaw getting on Gatland’s plane if he’s fit so it will be between him and Price for the Scotland tour.

  26. Martin on

    No-one will be ‘rested’ – Likely that the Scots players will be the next cab of the rank shoud there be injuries to the Lions squad (assuming 3/4 travellers in the orignal party). Having players already in the Southern Hemisphere will be important. I would think Nel, Brown, even Fagerson if a couple of TH issues, R. Gray, Russell, Dunbar and Maitland could if injuries occur, end up with the Lions and they will all be keen to travel with Scotland and be battle ready should they et the call

  27. AMW on

    Richie Gray will not be going on the Lions tour. He did something last tour which really annoyed the coaching staff. Not sure if on or off the field but this is the feedback I have had.

      • Grum on

        Living as I do in a state of sublime ignorance (i.e. S.Eng) I’ve thought of asking before that posts using initials or nicknames carry footnotes for the uninitiated. But seriously, “wet willie” ???

      • 1.8T on

        Hahahahahaha not sure if this is genuine or not? Wet Willie – “The act of moistening one’s finger with one’s own saliva, and inserting said finger into another’s ear canal. Hope this clears things up.

    • RuggersB on

      A match fit Taylor was a huge loss in the 6 nations for Scotland…alongside the injured props & flankers. Can play centre, wing and fullback all at an excellent level. Wouldn’t be surprised to see him as a starter under GT.

      • The Chiel on

        I am mildly obsessed with my view that Gatland will be told to take a minimum of 3 Scots on tour. Six months ago and pre current injuries the 3 I thought he’d take were Hogg, Nel and Taylor. Taylor because of his Sarries medals and particularly his ability to play across the back line as you mention.

      • try hard on

        Given the relative lack of viable centre options for the lions I wouldn’t be surprised to see Taylor go as a wildcard or at least be first reserve. He was in great form last season and has all the attributes Gatland clearly admires in a centre. If it wasn’t for his injuries its feasible that he’d be starting.

        Regarding the Scottish contingent, I think you’re right that there will be minimum 3 on the tour. It’s unfortunate that our injuries happened to be in positions of weakness for the lions since, fully fit, I’d have expected Jones, Nel, Dickinson and Taylor to be shoo-ins for the original touring party.

        Currently I think we can expect:
        Hogg – Not brilliant at the weekend but still 100% on the plane
        J Gray – Lost a bit of form recently and the claims for him to be a starter seem to have died down but will definitely tour.
        Seymour/Maitland – One but not both. Seymour has been quiet recently but is a proven try scorer while Maitland is more defensively sound.

        50/50 calls:
        Russell – Where to start with Finn? 2 MOM’s in the 6 nations but awful vs England. Lovely cross-kick to set up Jones at the weekend but 2 missed touch penalties. Doesn’t strike me as a player Gatland will like but does have undeniable x-factor. May make the plane due to Ford and Biggar also having howlers in the past 2 weeks vs Saracens and Stade Francais.
        Watson – Very good (for the most part) in the 6 nations and MOM vs La Rochelle but inexperienced when compared to the other options
        Dunbar – Personally don’t think he’s been good enough but with Farrell likely to be 10/12 who knows. Sturdy which will appeal to Gatland.

        Bolters:
        Taylor – see above
        Nel – Not the original party but even if he manages to play one game before the end of the season expect him to be first reserve. Tighthead is not a position that requires a huge amount of match fitness and proven scrummagers will be essential in New Zealand.

  28. Andy on

    That is awful news for Mark Bennett and Edinburgh with the potential to be out for a year, and probably not come back the same player.

    • JohnMc on

      Just saw that on BBC Rugby site. Yes, awful for the player and his new club, and bad news for depth at centre in the national side. I just hope he can recover sooner than the period medics have predicted.

      • The Chiel on

        Agree – dreadful for Edinburgh, Scotland but obviously most of all the player. Best wishes to him for a complete and speedy recovery.

  29. 1.8T on

    Terrible luck for Bennett, really feel for the guy. Hopefully he can come back from this but, not to be pessimistic it wouldn’t be the first time that someone has struggled to return for that.

    On another note, I see the English media are back raving about Chris Ashton, obviously trying to get him on the Lions tour.

  30. niall2510 on

    Duncan Taylor man of the match today against quins. visser and maitland looked in good form too hopefully be a successful tour if our exiles can carry their form

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