RWC Build-Up: Team for Italy, Omissions For New Zealand

Just when I thought I had figured out the Axis of Anticipated that is Robinson and Townsend they go and mix things up! Here is the Scotland team to face the Italians at Murrayfield on Saturday, 5pm:

15  Rory Lamont (Toulon) 24 caps

14  Max Evans (Castres) 19 caps
13  Nick De Luca (Edinburgh) 25 caps
12  Graeme Morrison (Glasgow Warriors) 29 caps
11  Simon Danielli (Ulster) 27 caps

10  Dan Parks (Cardiff Blues) 61 caps
9  Mike Blair (Edinburgh) VICE-CAPTAIN 71 caps

1  Alasdair Dickinson (Sale Sharks) 20 caps
2  Scott Lawson (Gloucester) 27 caps
3  Moray Low (Glasgow Warriors) 14 caps
4  Nathan Hines (Clermont Ferrand) 72 caps
5  Alastair Kellock (Glasgow Warriors) CAPTAIN 33 caps
6  Kelly Brown (Saracens) 45 caps
8  Richie Vernon (Sale Sharks) 11 caps
7  John Barclay (Glasgow Warriors) 28 caps

Substitutes

16  Dougie Hall (Glasgow Warriors) 35 caps
17  Euan Murray (Newcastle Falcons) 38 caps
18  Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors) 11 caps
19  Ross Rennie (Edinburgh) 7 caps
20  Chris Cusiter (Glasgow Warriors) 52 caps
21  Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow Warriors) 7 caps
22  Nikki Walker (Ospreys) 23 caps

 Of course to me, even with 14 changes, this isn’t really mixing things up. The game plan is one I would hope works regardless of personnel, and if they choose to play the way I want them to play against Argentina they are best placed to do this with Parks at 10 and a Lamont and Evans in the team at full-back and wing.

This selection is one that shows that Hamilton is unlikely to start at second row, as with Hall at hooker. It also shows that Blair is on the plane and others have a lot of work to do.

Poor Harley and Ryan Grant were always only there to supplement training and now head back to the Warriors at least in World Cup nick.

Chris Cusiter and Euan Murray also have a mammoth task proving themselves but I have a nagging, and frankly frustrating, notion that Robinson is going to take both of them. That would mean 5 props and an unlikely trip for Dickinson, unless he plays a blinder on Saturday, and Cusiter going with only probably a half of international rugby under his belt, recently. This would mean that Scotland’s best scrum half (last season) misses out, if Greig Laidlaw’s fleeting Murrayfield appearance is anything to go by.

This is one instance where I pray I am wrong, because I strongly feel that the Edinburgh Captain should go, even if it means Cusiter misses out or even Rory Lawson, who was poor against Ireland.

So do they know their squad now for RWC 2011? The cynic in me reckons they have known the squad for a week or so, now, and haven’t intimated as such to partly motivate the numbers and not to alienate those that could step in if there are injuries. The exception here being Harley and Grant.

So if we say that Thomson and Southwell pulled out and weren’t replaced, Harley and Grant were not even a passing consideration for Robinson and Denton and Cuthbert were kept up to speed for the future and so they are familiar enough, should they be needed in the following 6N, then that takes the squad to 34.

Which other 4 will miss out?

I feel emboldened enough to make a call on this. A prediction, if you will. If I am right there could be some disappointments: some for fans as well.

At the moment it looks unlikely that they will take Dickinson. If De Luca goes, which seems certain now, then the 3 centres and Evans will push out a wing or full-back. Normally it is between Danielli and Walker to see who gets the single spot and Robinson tends to favour Danielli, but my theory is that both will go, by virtue of Cuthbert’s cut.  

If we select 5 props and 2 hookers I feel Hall must miss out. He has nowhere near the level of rugby Ford and Lawson have played recently. We may even have an extra Hooker and 8 front rows, if we are negative. As a by product of 7 or 8 front rows, though, there will be one less back and if there are 2 Lamonts and a Paterson, 3 centres and an Evans, we cannot have 6 half-backs. The tragedy here is that Laidlaw looks set to miss out.

I suspect Rennie will go and Strokosch won’t. Don’t ask me why. Gut feeling. Who is the 30th man, then? Hall is only in because I think we’ll be cautious. Really the 30th man is the one area I have no inkling in. A surprise would be nice, wouldn’t it?!

So here is my predicted RWC 2011 Scotland squad based on the EMC squads I have seen. I hope in some aspects I am wrong, but by naming the above team for Italy Robinson and Townsend have, in many respects, nailed their colours to the mast.

Backs:
Joe Ansbro (London Irish), Mike Blair (Edinburgh), Chris Cusiter (Glasgow Warriors), Simon Danielli (Ulster), Nick De Luca (Edinburgh), Max Evans (Castres), Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow Warriors), Rory Lamont (Toulon), Sean Lamont (Scarlets), Rory Lawson (Gloucester), Graeme Morrison (Glasgow Warriors), Dan Parks (Cardiff Blues), Chris Paterson (Edinburgh), Nikki Walker (Ospreys).

Forwards:
 John Barclay, John Beattie (both Glasgow Warriors), Kelly Brown (Saracens), Geoff Cross (Edinburgh), Ross Ford (Edinburgh), Richie Gray, Dougie Hall (Glasgow Warriors), Jim Hamilton (Gloucester), Nathan Hines (Clermont Ferrand), Allan Jacobsen (Edinburgh), Alastair Kellock (Glasgow Warriors), Scott Lawson (Gloucester), Moray Low (Glasgow Warriors), Euan Murray (Newcastle Falcons), Ross Rennie (Edinburgh), Richie Vernon (Sale Sharks).

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Dundonian Alan has played rugby all over the world for various teams including Dundee High School, Heriot's and the Scottish Club International. Now writing from London he covers all issues international and unreported.

4 comments on “RWC Build-Up: Team for Italy, Omissions For New Zealand

  1. Dave on

    Reckon he will take 3 hookers. I think you need 3 specialists for a RWC campaign.

    Also think he will take Dickinson as then there would be only 1 specialist loosehead. Cross has played a bit at loosehead but not enough to start a test I don’t think.

    Also think Stroker will go instead of Vernon.

    So that means a 17/13 split so I think he will go for Walker over Danielli (unfortunately!)

  2. A.D. on

    Dave,
    I think you will be right about hookers- there will probably be 3 hookers and 3 scrum halves- but i’m not so sure about Stroker. Vernon has been consistently in the squad last season while Strokosch has to keep proving himself.

    Stroker didn’t do himself any favours by playing against Ireland in a way which seemed unnatural to him.

    As for Dickinson I think they would rather have Low as an option to play both loose and tight, rather than Dickinson. I’m convinced that either Low or Dickinson will miss the cut because of our obsession with Murray.

    We will know next Monday.

  3. Nick Hart on

    A.D

    Dave their is no way stroker will go instead of vernon. Too good.

    Shame about Laidlaw but Lawson has done enough previously and Cusiter/Blair will fight it out for the bench spot. I can see one of them starting by the time we get to England however.

    As for Dougie Hall, reluctantly I agree that he has to be taken at such a big tournament.

    Monkey

  4. Kev on

    Backs:
    Joe Ansbro (London Irish), Mike Blair (Edinburgh), Chris Cusiter (Glasgow Warriors), Simon Danielli (Ulster), Nick De Luca (Edinburgh), Max Evans (Castres), Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow Warriors), Rory Lamont (Toulon), Sean Lamont (Scarlets), Rory Lawson (Gloucester), Graeme Morrison (Glasgow Warriors), Dan Parks (Cardiff Blues), Chris Paterson (Edinburgh),
    Forwards:
    John Barclay, John Beattie (both Glasgow Warriors), Kelly Brown (Saracens), Geoff Cross (Edinburgh), Al Dickinson (Sale),Ross Ford (Edinburgh), Richie Gray, Dougie Hall (Glasgow Warriors), Jim Hamilton (Gloucester), Nathan Hines (Clermont Ferrand), Allan Jacobsen (Edinburgh), Alastair Kellock (Glasgow Warriors), Scott Lawson (Gloucester), Moray Low (Glasgow Warriors), Euan Murray (Newcastle Falcons), Al Strokosch (Gloucester), Richie Vernon (Sale Sharks).

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