While I was sitting thinking about whether to write about London Scottish getting promotion (congrats to all) or Chris Cusiter heading down under for some match fitness (throw another shrimp on the barbie, don’t get injured) or maybe the Sevens squad again being strengthened with pros (more non-reflective gloss on the results), Andy Robinson decided today was the day to announce his initial World Cup training squad of 40 men. So, mostly opinion free today. As expected there are few surprises (but still one or two). So here it is, hot from Murrayfield:
Scotland Training Squad for Rugby World Cup 2011
Backs: Joe Ansbro* (Northampton Saints); Mike Blair, Ben Cairns* (both Edinburgh), Chris Cusiter (Glasgow Warriors), Jack Cuthbert* (Bath), Simon Danielli (Ulster), Nick De Luca* (Edinburgh), Max Evans* (Glasgow Warriors), Ruaridh Jackson* (Glasgow Warriors), Greig Laidlaw* (Edinburgh), Rory Lamont (Toulon), Sean Lamont (Scarlets), Rory Lawson (Gloucester), Graeme Morrison* (Glasgow Warriors), Dan Parks (Cardiff Blues), Chris Paterson (Edinburgh), Hugo Southwell (Stade Francais), Nikki Walker (Ospreys).
Forwards: John Barclay, John Beattie* (both Glasgow Warriors), Kelly Brown (Saracens), Geoff Cross*, David Denton* (both Edinburgh), Alasdair Dickinson (Gloucester), Ross Ford (Edinburgh), Ryan Grant*, Richie Gray*, Dougie Hall (all Glasgow Warriors), Jim Hamilton (Gloucester), Robert Harley* (Glasgow Warriors), Nathan Hines (Leinster), Allan Jacobsen (Edinburgh), Alastair Kellock* (Glasgow Warriors), Scott Lawson (Gloucester), Moray Low* (Glasgow Warriors), Euan Murray (Newcastle Falcons), Ross Rennie* (Edinburgh), Alasdair Strokosch* (Gloucester), Fergus Thomson, Richie Vernon* (both Glasgow Warriors).
* = Yet to play in a Rugby World Cup match.
With a group this size, pretty much everyone you’d expect to make it has made it in – the real challenge comes later. This squad will be whittled down to a 30 man group to travel to New Zealand following the EMC Tests vs Ireland and Italy in early August.
As expected World Class Phil has not made it back to fitness in time, despite having come up with the “holiday in Australia” plan long before Cus did. He must have wanted to fly first class, as his trip fell through while his erstwhile half back partner is sunning himself and trying to de-lag himself in time for the weekend. Also with Robbo not allowing any of his squad to play in the IRB Sevens Series, it was always a good bet that Jim Thompson would miss out too, given he was announced in Graeme Shiel’s squad yesterday for the Twickenham and Murrayfield legs. Arguably as a result of the Mossy resurgence in the Six Nations, but given Rory Lamont’s patchy appearances of late you would have thought Jim was in with a shout. He’s still young.
On the other hand, this could be the last World Cup for a few coming towards the tail end of their playing careers, men such as Mossy (looking at his fourth) and Parks who have served faithfully but now see youth and hunger at every turn in the squad behind them… For example, young Rob Harley and David Denton have made it in on the back of some strong performances this season and will be looking to be more than tackle practice for the Killer Bees…
Congratulations to all of the squad. Let the hard work begin.