With the news that Scott MacLeod is off to Japan to ply his trade, those of us turning thoughts to Rugby World Cup 2011 and who should go on the plane just found our lives a lot easier. Assuming that Robbo takes 4 locks (plus a back-rower or two with a bit of time in the second row perhaps) and that the front runners are most likely Gray, Kellock and Hines, the debate was always going to be over MacLeod or Hamilton for the extra cover berth. Now MacLeod’s move has forced him to recuse himself from World Cup duty, the door is wide open for big Jim. Not always the most mobile, his undoubted contribution has always been general grunt, lineout height and some extra power behind Euan Murray in the scrum. But this news, coupled with decent form for Gloucester should see him tie up the fourth lock slot. Unless Fraser McKenzie gets back to his early season form, then it could get interesting again…
This season’s Six Nations has been an unpredictable affair (should there be a Le in front of that?) with England dominating right up to the last exchange when they imploded at the Aviva Stadium. Despite this mishap, their players were generally better across the board but rather worryingly only Richie Gray could be said to be nailed on for a spot in this team with few real stand-outs on show. A.D (with a little help from Rory) gives us the team of the tournament.
Before we focus completely on ‘The Italian Job’ (yeah, you’re gonna be reading that headline. A lot!) perhaps I should look at the recent developments at Glasgow and Edinburgh. Development is in fact the key word here because, as we acknowledge that this season has been very poor for Scottish rugby, I am forced to ask “will at least one of Scotland’s pro sides be turned into a development team?”
Andy Robinson announces a mostly unchanged team to allow the combinations that performed well against England and France to see if they can end the tournament on some sort of high, while Nick Mallet has made a bunch of changes to the team that beat France.
Scotland: Paterson, Evans, Ansbro, Lamont, Danielli, Jackson, Lawson, Jacobsen, Ford, Cross, Gray, Kellock, Hines, Barclay, Brown
Replacements: Lawson, Murray, Vernon, Strokosch, Blair, Parks, De Luca
Italy: A Masi (Racing Metro), T Benvenuti (Treviso), G Canale (Clermont Auvergne), A Sgarbi (Treviso), Mirco Bergamasco (Stade Francais), K Burton (Treviso), F Semenzato (Treviso) S Perugini (Aironi), L Ghiraldini (Treviso), M Castrogiovanni (Leicester), C Del Fava (Aironi), Q Geldenhuys (Aironi), A Zanni (Treviso), P Derbyshire (Treviso), S Parisse (Stade Francais).
Replacements: C Festuccia (Racing Metro), A Lo Cicero (Racing Metro), V Bernabo (Treviso), R Barbieri (Treviso), P Canavosio (Aironi), L Orquera (Brive), L McLean (Treviso)
Ref: Steve “Matey” Walsh