Well done to Alex Grove on his debut cap, I reckon it’s a good idea to give him a shot against Fiji. More interesting even than that is the suprise absence of Thom Evans from the 22, given that he had been pretty much the creative spark for Scotland all of last season. It does put a fair bit of pressure on the back three to try and maintain the scoring form that the Evans boys seemed to help Scotland discover. Other than that though the team looks decent enough, and good to see former Highland man Moray Low gets another cap! New co-captain Chris Cusiter gets his shot to start and the Lamont boys make a return to add ballast to the backs. Ross Ford meanwhile needs to kick on from the Lions tour, sort out his throwing and bring the power carrying game (along with Hines) that can make him a real threat. Let’s not forget Fiji are above us in the IRB rankings, but we should still be looking to beat them and get Robbo’s stint as coach off to a good start. And I didn’t even mention Mossy, but he’s on the bench as 10 cover pretty much as expected.
Scotland team to play Fiji: Rory Lamont, Sean Lamont, Alex Grove, Graeme Morrison, Simon Danielli, Phil Godman, Chris Cusiter, Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford, Moray Low, Nathan Hines, Alastair Kellock, Alasdair Strokosch, Johnnie Beattie, John Barclay.
Replacements: Dougie Hall, Kyle Traynor, Jason White, Richie Vernon, Mike Blair, Chris Paterson, Nick De Luca
UPDATE: and here is the Fiji team announced by coach Glen Ella, who has hit out at the lack of co-operation from clubs on player release. Fiji are above us in the rankings yet we didn’t seem to have a problem getting our exiles back. They should be given every consideration for player release and it is basically pretty crappy that some nations are still seen as second class by the bigger league organisations/unions when it comes to player release, even during a recognised International season.
Fiji team: J Matavesi (Exeter); V Goneva (Vatura), G Lovobalavu (Toulon), S Bai (Clermont Auvergne, capt), N Nalaga (Clermont Auvergne); N Little (Bath), M Rauluni (Saracens); A Yalayalatabua (Navy), V Veikoso (Mavoci), D Manu (Scarlets), W Lewaravu (London Welsh), I Rawaqa (World Fighting Bulls), J Domolailai (Lomavata), A Qera (Gloucester), A Boko (Tau).
Replacements: G Dewes (Esher), S Ledua (FTG), L Nakarawa (Army Green), S Bola (Police), W Vatuvoka (Duavata), J Ratu (Cagimaira), N Roko (Yokogawa).
Also, it would be great if any of you could sponsor me in Movember please! Along with all the Wallaby team at the weekend I saw a photo that looks like Cus may be sporting some chops too, though it could just be the light. My facial hair silliness should be in evidence for the Argentina game at the end of the month, ticket availability permitting… and don’t forget to check out Front Up’s offer below!