Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland Team for Six Nations Opener

6N Scotland vs England

Andy Robinson has gone with a blend of youth and experience for his first team of the 2012 RBS Six Nations, but perhaps not in the quantities or areas we had imagined.The pack features the front five that everyone expected to see along with a back row with a nice blend of aggression, athleticism and dynamism, while out wide Lee Jones gets a chance to jump ahead of Tim Visser in the queue to be the next big thing on the wing – even if he is actually not very big.

The selection that will as usual garner the most criticism is the selection of Dan Parks at 10 – but Greig Laidlaw is waiting in the wings as the cover for that position.

Scotland team to face England: Rory Lamont, Lee Jones, Nick De Luca, Sean Lamont, Max Evans, Dan Parks, Chris Cusiter, Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford, Euan Murray, Richie Gray, Jim Hamilton, Alisdair Strokosch, Ross Rennie, David Denton
Replacements: Scott Lawson, Geoff Cross, Al Kellock, John Barclay, Mike Blair, Greig Laidlaw, Graeme Morrison

Alan Dymock was there to note what was said at the announcement:

Faced with rows of writers Andy Robinson sat, cheeks reddened from camera exposure, and welcomed questions on his Scotland selection. The general messages that he countered with? Scotland need front foot ball, England will play in a specific manner, there were close calls with every decision and that Laidlaw would come on at 10 at some point during the game.

“I’m very happy with the balance that we have in the squad,” he asserted. “We’re going into this fully aware that it’s going to be a frantic, tough, physical test match. We’re starting at nil-nil and we’ve got to build ourselves into the game. We’ve a lot of respect for the coaches there with England.

“You’ve just got to watch Saracens and the way they play, and tactically that is something we need to be fully aware of.

“Lee Jones has been playing well for Edinburgh, he’s been scoring tries. I watched him down in Cardiff in the first Heineken Cup game. I liked his work off the ball. The tries and his work rate against London Irish away from home, I think, were very good and that’s what you’re looking for in players: their work rate and their ability to get on the ball. He’s played well in the last few months.”

On his other youngster he talked of his powerful rise to a starting berth. “David Denton was really unlucky not to be involved in the World Cup. He’d shone through a lot of the work we had done in the training camp and was just unfortunate to miss out, but he’s come back to Edinburgh and I think he has been really outstanding in the way he’s played. He has forced his way into the team.

“He’s a big man, he has big hands and he will be under pressure at the base of scrums. We know that. If your scrum is going forward it is a lot easier. He has got pace off the base of the scrum and he has got good hands.”

When asked on his stand-off options he was at pains to state that Greig Laidlaw has been in impressive form and that he would give him a chance to learn at 10, even in the heated environment of a Calcutta Cup game, but that the much maligned Dan Parks was in good enough form to merit selection.

He reminded everyone that Warren Gatland once wrote off Parks’ attacking ability a few years ago, and he proved everyone wrong. He felt that Scotland’s balance would not be affected by changing his 10s. Of course by having Blair and Laidlaw on the bench it is likely that the pair will come on together around the hour mark.

He also stated that it was close with Rennie and Barclay, but that the Edinburgh 7 deserved his shot.

“He’s played well for Edinburgh – obviously not starting every game – but in the games that he has played in he has really performed as an international rugby player. Because of that, and the selection of Denton, this is Ross Rennie’s time.

“He is slightly different to John [Barclay], in terms of the speed of the game we want to play, and that is the reason for selecting him ahead of John. John has started to find some real form, but he has been finding that form as an 8 or a 6. I’ve been pleased with the way that he has come back into the game and the way that he played in Bath so John is starting to find that confidence back in his game. We’ve got a good selection there.”

No doubt this will be a massive test for those players and Robinson has clearly backed his personnel in the year’s most keenly anticipated game. For the young men thrown into a Calcutta Cup fraught with pressure and close on paper it is a case of just letting the game play, though. They can’t overthink it.

“From my first start for Edinburgh, coming to know it all does seem surreal,” Denton admitted. “We’ve got to put our hands up and get us on the front foot. I feel my ball carrying has been going really well and hopefully I can bring that onto the pitch on Saturday.

“A year ago this would have seemed very far away.”

As for Jones, an excited debutant, he is just focussing on his spot on the wing. When the team sheet was put up “the squad was just kind of there. I couldn’t really concentrate on anything else, to be honest. I don’t know who else is playing!” he joked.

Let’s hope he is as focussed when he faces down the English. The coach and the players are certainly talking confidently.

67 Responses

  1. Parks….10 games 2 wins. Does anyone want to buy a ticket? Robinson talks a load of absolute rubbish attacking rugby blah blah blah. I hate to say it but for once in my life I want Scotland to lose to England so we can say goodbye to Parks, and to that matter Robinson.

    1. Parks AGAIN. Why do coaches always have to pick a player anyone not in an asylum knows is the wrong choice. It was the same against Argentina in the WC. when he came on as a replacement, and when Robo left out the CAPTAIN. What a great idea. Pick a captain to lead from the scrum and then drop him when playing a tough scrum. genius.

      And why do coaches always wait 60 minutes to replace people?

    2. It’s Robinson, not Parks.
      Parks can only do his best. Robinson shouldn’t put him on to start. If he didn’t, then we would be playing to win. At the moment we’re playing not to lose.

  2. as teams go, it’s not *that* bad, though I still don’t understand Parks at 10, especially given his rivals for the spot and his age. I feel, however, that the bench (well for the backs) is weak and is a poor poor selection.

    We all know Laidlaw can cover 9 and 10, so why not replace Blair with someone who can 10/12 (like Weir). Morrison, is a very limited player, but if he comes on, he’ll be a straight swap for SLamont (Lamont might not come off, but Morrison will slot in at 12), so the only impact you’ll get is fresh legs, and no change in game dynamics.

    Won’t boo Parks, but I certainly won’t be cheering him!

  3. Shame, after all the talk about picking on form he chooses the old players who aren’t performing. Rory Lamont! Dan Parks! Cusiter! Strokosch! When did they last have a good game?!

    Glad to see Morrison out of the starting 15 and Laidlaw as 10 cover but overall it’s clear that Robinson doesn’t like to pick performing youth.

    Not feeling as confident now.

  4. I don’t think the selection of Parks at 10 is all that bad. It depends what Dan Parks turns up on the day mind. If we get a switched on Dan Parks then his boot could wreak havoc amongst an inexperienced England side, especially cross field kicks to Evans and Jones around the 22. Get a frustrated Parks and the game will be scrappy.

    I’m excited by the propect of Laidlaw off the bench when legs start to tire and gaps start to open up.

  5. James, Cusiter has been immense for Glasgow in both the league and Heineken Cup, and would be my first choice 9 currently without a doubt. Strokosch has also been gaining massive plaudits for his recent performances for Gloucester, and with Brown out and Denton in at 8 is a pretty good selection, when you consider the blend across the back row as a whole.

  6. Oh Rory I’ve always liked Cusiter but, and maybe it’s just me who fixates on this, he’s started taking even more steps across field before he passes the ball of late. It drives me mad! He sets the drift off before the ball has even reached the fly half.

    If only we could combine his running with Blair’s passing.

    1. I know what you mean about the crabby thing but Blair does it too, and the other aspects of his game have been superb this season. I would have been happy had he picked Blair or Cusiter.

    2. The big difference I noticed in the Glasgow v Bath game when Cusiter came off is that we went from quick ball directly from the back of the ruck to crabbing and slow ball from Pyrgos, so I don’t think it’s a problem for Cusiter right now, although I have seen him and every other scrum-half do it. I guess it’s a confidence thing, if they have the confidence to make the quick accurate pass that day then they will, otherwise they’ll crab.

    3. If speed of pass is the main criteria for selection then Colin Gregor should be in the picture.

      Cusiter outplayed Blair at Xmas twice. Laidlaw isnt being considered for 9 (it would appear) and I have not seen enough of Lawson to comment.

  7. Maybe I’ve been watching the wrong games but Strokosch has seemed subdued recently. To be fair he’s a great tackler and rucker so I’m not too bothered.

    So as far as the back row is concerned I understand the Strokosch selection. He’s gone for a mobile 7 and 8 in Denton and Rennie so we need some hard grunt on the blind.

  8. I voiced my unedited opinion to Rory via text but I’ll moderate for the public platform. The blend between Cusiter and Parks is not to my fancy, certainly not for this game when, in my opinion, a high tempo is required. James hits the nail with his comment about the sideways steps from Cusiter, it just slows the whole game down. I’ve been impressed with Blair this year, he’s been getting quick delivery for Edinburgh and, working in tandem with Laidlaw, it’s made for some good rugby. THe match up with Cusiter and Parks will only go to slow the whole game down. It’s nice to see Lee Jones starting but if he ain’t ever going to see the ball what’s the point!

    I’m so incredibly disapointed with this lineup. I think it is conservative and set up to frustrate rather than dominate. Robinson made some funny selections in the world cup (i.e. dropping Ansbro in the Argentina game) and his selections for this game are, in my opinion (and it’s all opinions), not the best. He’s playing a dangerous game because if this backfires against an untested side he leaves himself open to the criticism he had in England – great coach, poor selector.

  9. Such. A. Shame.

    I *really* hope DP turns up on Saturday. We don’t need limp kicks and chips, we need drive and imagination. The only way I think Mr Robinson will realise this is what happens when he subs in the 70th minute….. I can only wait.

  10. Disappointing to see parks start at 10, Robinson choice has perhaps been determined by the wind and snow forecast for game time on sat. Would like to see blair & laidlaw on to inject some pace into the game at some point. Good to see jones’ recent form earning him a starting place on the wing

  11. What a waste of a great opportunity to give Laidlaw a go at ten! England have a brand new team and we have a really good pack so what better opportunity could there be to blood a new ten? At least he is on the bench. I’m also sad that Stuart Hogg is not on the bench instead of Morrison. There is no question which of the two is playing better and which offers the most. Morrison is whole hearted but just does not offer the attacking and ball playing options we need. It’s not all doom as its a great pack (except if playing Parks I would have picked Al Kellock so we can kick for the corners and nick the English lineout ball) and good bench: stand by to win by the odd penalty in the world’s most boring match. More importantly, Robinson is clearly not going to move on from juggernaut rugby

  12. A genuine question on Robinson’s selection; do you think Denton, Jones or Laidlaw would have been on the pitch/ in the 22 if Brown, Ansbro and Jackson were fit?

    1. By the way I wasn’t meaning to slag off Laidlaw and co. I think they’ve deserved their start (or should have got a start in Laidlaw’s case). I just wanted to point out that apart from Rennie the changes could be argued to have been injury enforced.

    2. What happened as soon as Laidlaw came on?
      He scored a try that, for some reason, was disallowed.

      Who got MOM?

      Jones also played very well.

  13. Having had time to digest the team sheet I am sure I speak for a fair few Scottish rugby fans who feel that this was an opportunity lost. Both Edinburgh & Glasgow have quite rightly given Scottish rugby a much needed lift following a poor showing in the world cup, with England is Disarray I could see no better opportunity to really take the game to an inexperienced side, Boyed by an intimidating Murryfield and a formidable front line which should provide plenty of ball. It’s not rocket science play your inform players and let the opposition worry about you
    However true to form Robinson has shown himself to lack vision, if we win we will stick with 33 year old Parks and other aging “stars” for the rest of the tournament, end result no progress.
    Having been looking forward to the opening game and the tournament for some time, I feel a huge sense of anti-climax, being a Scottish fan is never easy but with Robinsons selections he makes it even harder.
    If he does not progress significantly in this tournament I for one want to see him depart, he has had the goodwill, myself included but has done his level best to lose it. 4 days now of anger till I see Dan bloody Parks slap rugby in the face once more.

  14. Bazza, i agree with you. He has had time and i am dissappointed that Robinson has not taken a gamble. However, my point echoes those of the others on this site in that with the pressure on, i think Dan Parks will turn up like he did two years ago with some match winning performances as he really has nothing to lose.

  15. Another tepid selection from AR. Parks and Cusiter will contrive to slow the game down yet again. Result = No quick ball to the backs and therefore no penetration and tries. Same old, same old. This line-up is designed to win the game via drop kicks and penalties..

  16. Strangely enough I feel more positive about this Scotland selection than I have in years, even taking on board everything said about Parks. Just goes to show even such a niche church as Scottish Rugby has a broad congregation of opinions!

  17. Lets bear in mind with all this commentary on the 10 selection that Robinson has shown his clear preference to be Jackson at stand off. Jackson is injured and therefore he goes to the only other Scottish-qualified 10 with both a bit of form and some international experience. At the same time he has Laidlaw on the bench to allow him to be eased into the international game. What is all the fuss about? Up until very recently Laidlaw was stating his clear preference as a scrum half at every opportunity.

  18. I have to say that I am siding with the Phoenix on this one. Parks tends to play well against England in the big games particularly at Murrayfield. As a proud Scotsman I will be cheering him on and I think the last thing this team needs is for supporters to turn immediately on the players. Fair enough Robinson has copped out again but that is his style. He does not pick form players but sticks to his favourites. Rennie is the prime example of this. How many times has he played for Edinburgh this season? Answer…not many. More importantly, how many of the big games has he played in and finished? Answer…two and zero. He is hugely fortunate to be in the squad let alone be starting

  19. Another dissenting voice perhaps, but I think this is , in the main, a good team selection. I would have preferred Blair and Laidlaw as the starting choice of half backs. Still it is a big belligerent pack, with lot of athleticism in it, and am delighted that Denton has been selected. All in all I am feeling positive about the England game, and the rest of the championship.

  20. The Pigeon’s comments on Ross Rennie are absurd. He is in outstanding form and that is one thing that everyone agrees on. Educate yourself.

  21. Fraser is clearly not someone who has watched any rugby since the world cup, in particular Edinburgh and their Heineken Cup campaign. If you had watched Edinburgh this season you would have noted Ross Rennie’s absence in the majority of the big games. He has played 80 mins twice this season, against Treviso and a 2nd string Munster team. He has played 50-60 mins on 3 or 4 occasions being replaced by Roddy Grant who has performed outstandingly in the big games and played the full 80 mins 7 times since Rennie returned from the World Cup. Grant had Warburton in his back pocket for the return Cardiff game at Murrayfield following a superb performance against Racing Metro. Against London Irish away the turning point in the game and catalyst to their victory was Rennie being replaced with half an hour to go, if you watched that game you would have noted that. Grant has been one of the main reasons for Edinburgh’s success. Their game plan is dependant on quick ball and he is 9 times out of 10 the first person at every attacking ruck to secure quick ball. My point was that this position has not been picked on form but on past reputation as Scotland’s no 7 on Saturday has been kept out of the Edinburgh team for the majority of this season. The recent game against London Irish said it all…Edinburgh’s biggest game of the season and recent history and who was picked at 7…Roddy Grant and not Ross Rennie. Fraser…I’m not sure about you but I would rather the players playing for Scotland have been playing regularly and can hold down their position at their club. This is not the case with Ross Rennie. And please watch some rugby before leaving such uneducated comments as that above.

  22. Hmm… Watched all of Edinburgh’s Heineken Cup campaign actually. He may not play week in week out but when he does play he is outstanding. Are you seriously suggesting that Roddy Grant is better than Ross Rennie? If so, you must be the only person in Scotland to think so.

    No, I wouldn’t read too much into Ross not playing week in week out. I want players who are class, proven class, players who can clearly compete at international level. Rennie has repeatedly shown at international level that he can go toe to toe with the best 7s around.

    You’re wrong. If there is one thing Andy Robinson knows, it is openside flankers. He disagrees with you, and so does the Scottish rugby public. I look forward to being proved right.

  23. Pretty disappointed that theres so much negative focus is on Parks.
    Parks was always gonna play against England. Weir is good but needs more exposure at Test Level (A match), Laidlaw is a good rugbyplayer but not really a stand off (yet) and Jacko is out.
    Given the weather forecast heading Murrayfields way on Saturday a 5pm, I believe it’s a good choice FOR THIS MATCH!!!
    Not so sure about Rennie but I’m still pretty excited.
    And anyone who wants England to beat Scotland because of Parks selection???????????

  24. Also, I realise I never made it explicit enough: Rennie is managed because of his knees. However, when he plays he shows his class. His knees do not prevent him from being outstanding both as a scavenger and a link man and, before you say it, will not prevent him in any way against England.

  25. My point is that a Scotland team should consist of the players that are the form players for their respective teams. How can a player who has been kept out of the Edinburgh team be picked for Scotland? That would happen for pretty much no other team other than Scotland with Andy Robinson. He did it with England and is now doing it with Scotland. Tell me why you shouldnt read too much into Ross not playing week in week out? To me that says he is being outplayed by the person wearing the 7 jersey. And I am absolutely not the only person that shares these thoughts. I am not saying Ross Rennie is not a good player, however he has not been playing for Edinburgh regularly enough to justify picking him for Scotland. Ross Rennie has amassed 11 caps for Scotland coming on as a substitute so how are you justifying your comment that he has repeatedly performed at international level. Get a grip of yourself

  26. Pigeon, you sound like someone who just started watching rugby at the start of the season and now thinks hes an expert.

    Rennie is by far the best 7 in Scotland atm. His gametime at edinburgh is not an indicator of his form. Have you forgotten that he still gets managed to keep his knees from giving up? Or would that get in the way of your massive single eye? Roddy Grant is a class player, and I find it amazing that he is still uncapped, but a better openside than Rennie? eh no. His workrate is certainly second to none amongst our opensides, but Rennies skill at the breakdown, ball winning, and ability in the loose is better than Grant and for that matter, barclay.

    You are the only person I have seen across all the debate online who has an issue with Rennie other than a couple of Glasgow warriors forumites who have a track record of hating every player to come out of Edinburgh.

  27. See my comment above. That is why you shouldn’t read into it. I thought the issue with Rennie’s knees was common knowledge, but maybe not. You are such a die-hard Edinburgh watcher after all. The fact that you aren’t aware of this makes your following of Edinburgh highly questionable. You may watch the games, as you keep saying, but do you really know what is going on?

    The Scotland team is not the players that are performing for their clubs, it is the best Scottish players. There is a subtle distinction there that I trust you will acknowledge. The step-up to international rugby is undoubtedly bigger than you think – Rennie steps up comfortably and there are still numerous doubts over Grant.

    Every time Rennie has come on, he has been outstanding. He can only do what he can, and he has always made a difference. He would have started more games had Robinson not been so loyal to an under-performing John Barclay, so in one sense I do agree with your thoughts on Robinson’s loyalty.

    Ross Rennie does not need to play regularly for Edinburgh to ‘justify’ his selection. This season he has done enough to confirm his position as Scotland’s best out and out openside.

  28. To throw the cat amongst the Pigeons…. sorry…

    Ross Rennie said today that he feels there are no problems whatsoever with his knees and that he could play as much as AR would want (although he would say this, wouldn’t he?). Sign of the times that the argument is Rennie v Grant, not Rennie v Barclay…

    I also heard someone involved in the game put forth the theory that Parks will play this game and win lose or draw he will be thanked and told to make way. Now I’m not sure how much credence a concept like this really merits, but with rumours of a future player/coach role at Connacht maybe neither party would fight this too much? Remains to be seen. When Laidlaw comes on perhaps the decision will be taken out of everyone’s hands as he puts in a match defining performance. We will wait and see.

  29. Fraser, Dave, I am fully aware of Ross Rennie’s knee situation however since he has come back playing following his nightmare spell on the sidelines he plays one week and then rests the next. Since the world cup he has played against the weaker opposition and then not played for 3 weeks. That does not say I am resting my knees, that says I am being kept out the team. I have seen him play very well for Edinburgh and he fully justifies playing for Scotland, however that time was at the world cup when Barclay was awful and he was playing well. For me it seems he is being rewarded for his form 6 months too late. I wasnt aware that he had come out and said his knees were fine so that comment makes a laughing stock of your argument as to why he hasn’t been playing regularly for Edinburgh. I hope he plays well on Saturday as I am a Scotland fan but if the “knee” situation is it has been for Edinburgh this season Barclay will be back in for the next 3 weeks. Great continuity…

  30. Whilst the Pigeon clearly has a man crush on Roddy Grant he raises some good points. I think picking Rennie is a step in the right direction in that he is playing better than John Barclay but there is a feeling that he is still being rewarded for his form 6 months ago. Roddy Grant will get his opportunity in the national team and Fraser, to say he would not handle the step up is a bit unfair as he has not been given the chance and as has been stated, Edinburgh have turned to Grant, not Rennie for their big games and his work rate is there for all to see.

    On a more positive note i think we can all agree that choosing Dan Parks is good for nothing else but team moral. I know i would appreciate a trademark ‘ass slap’ every time i caught the ball/was near the person with the ball/on the same area of the pitch as someone who was near the person with the ball. Lets get enthusiastic about Scotland who must be going into this game as favourites for the first time in years. Come on Scotland! (*row of ass slaps*)

  31. Obviously he’s going to say his knees are fine… Are you really going to take that at face value? It certainly does not make a ‘laughing stock’ of my argument. Rennie was supposed to play against Irish before pulling out at the last minute – that was the biggest game of the season so…

    And use your real name on things like this. No use hiding behind some silly name if you want to engage in a proper debate.

  32. I think you will find that if you look at the team sheet named for the Irish game Rennie was not even in the 22. Denton then pulled out in the warm up and he was then named on the bench. Again, biggest game of the season…

  33. Could we at least agree that there is healthy competition in this position, which can only be a good thing for Scotland?

    I have a back-row-ish question, though: If Denton said that picking from the base is a huge aim of his and AR says that the scrum going forward is vital to front foot carries is it taken as read that our scrum will at least have parity with the English one, if not besting it?

  34. There is very strong competition on this front and I will agree to disagree with Fraser on this point.

    As for the scrum, with the front five experience we have there I think we will at least have parity there and if Murray can get the better of the England loosehead then we should dominate there. One thing is for certain, Dan Parks will be all over their asses if they are going forward!

  35. It’s a bit of a worry that, there are certain positions where an injury would cause a lot of shuffling and probably cause the gameplan to be thrown out the window. It wouldn’t be Chunk though as he is made of rock and girders.

  36. Ok, first things first, I worry about all this talk of England being is disarray. They have a bigger point to prove than us, and giving us a thumping at Murrayfield could not be a more appealing incentive. So the Scottish players need to remain focused and not get distracted by outside events or count on the English lads taking stage fright.

    I’m happy enough with the front 5, although Kellock has certainly put his hand up in recent weeks to have pushed for a slot in the second row. I like Denton’s ball carrying ability, but I worry a little that he is playing in a position that he’s not holding down at club level. I’d have been tempted to go for a back row of Denton at 6, Rennie at 7 and Barclay at 8 who seems to have a good understanding with Cusiter at 9.

    What a lot of nonsense has been talked on here and elsewhere about Cusiter crabbing across the pitch. I wonder how many of those posting have ever played scrum half? Slow service and crabbing across the pitch is what Warriors fans say Blair does, and the debate over the scrum halfs looks to have descended into tribal pettiness. Slow ball is often down to poor presentation by the forwards and legal and illegal jackling for the ball by the opposition. All scummys crabb at times, and sometimes its the right thing to do to keep the ball away from danger around the scrum area.

    I’m please that Jones gets a start on the wing, he’s a dangerous player and I’m excited by his inclusion (and I say this as a Warriors fan!). Likewise NDL has been playing well, so being an optimist I’m hoping he can do what he’s not really done in the past and show this form on the international stage. As others have said Hogg has been the in form Scottish FB, and I’d at least have liked to see him on the bench.

    Which brings us to No 10. I’d have liked to see Laidlaw start at 10. Weir’s form had dipped a little, and I think the summer tour is the time to blood him at full international level. That said I can see AR’s logic in playing Dan, and really, really hope that the crowd give him and the rest of the team a good reception and we have none of the rubbish we had a few years back when people booed him. Nevertheless, I think Foden is a dangerous player and if we kick loosely he will run them back with interest.

    One last final thought / question – is it the IRB or the 6 Nations committee that dictate the number or replacements? I’d be in favour of a match day 23 so that you have a full replacement front row. However, I also don’t want to see players taken off because there is a pre-planned script. If a guy is playing well and showing no sign of fatigue then keep him on the field.

  37. As a Scot living in Wales for over 40 years I remain a passionate Scottish supporter and have remained so through the bad (and worse) times. Around this time every year I carry the hope that this year will be different and we will see quality attacking rugby with our fair share of tries – such hope has already gone. Driving home last night I could not believe that Dan Parks had been picked at 10. He is not playing well for Cardiff Blues and is regularly criticised for his failure to get the backline moving. He can have a 3 man overlap and still go for a drop goal! Our backs don’t have genuine pace and often fail to see genuine attacking opportunities, or don’t have the confidence to take them. As such it is imperative that we get quick ball and carry a threat close to the scrum in order to create space. Parks will just kick or shuffle the ball across the line. He is no threat whatsoever and all that England will do is shuffle across the field in the knowledge that they have nothing to fear. It would have been good to see Laidlaw at 10 and Weir on the bench as both bring some attacking flair and will keep the back-row of England on their toes. Both can kick penalties as good as Parks – who isn’t even taking the kicks for the Blues these days. The bench is hugely disappointing and brings little threat unless Laidlaw and Blair can get things moving – but as usual it will be a case of swopping both half-backs with 15 or 20 minutes to go. Why not just have Laidlaw who can play 9 or 10 (prefer 10)giving space for Weir. I cannot understand having Morriston on the bench as he adds very little. Roddy Grant, who has been outstanding in the games that I have seen, should be on the bench instead of Barclay who doesn’t seem to be anywhere near being on his game. Very dissapointing selections and I think things will get worse. Johnson, who is leaving the Ospreys to take up a role with Scotland, has done absolutley nothing for the Ospreys despite having one of the best squads in Europe over the last few years. People in Swansea can’t wait for him to leave and ideally take the rest of the coaching team there with him. So here we go again: another start to the season with little prospect for attacking rugby; few tries, unless the forwards can scramble some; a lot of kicking; stacks of errors; and IF we win it will be the usual – hope for penalties and a drop goal. So sad!

  38. I would like to echo the comments above that Murrayfield should give Dan a fantastic reception. There is no point in getting on his back. Secondly I agree with Fraser that Rennie deserves his shot over Barclay and probably has done for the last year or so.

    The position I am most disappointed about is inside centre and the wings. There is always a place for a small, nippy winger however to have 2 on the pitch at the same time in the current physical age is excessive and I think that is a weakness. I thought S Lamont should be on the wing for that physical edge and am disappointed not to see Graeme Morrison in that 12 jersey. He has been a stalwart for Glasgow and Scotland and brings physicality, dynamism and a real go forward that we need playing the English. He is on the bench tho and I look forward to seeing him come on on Saturday.

  39. Finally someone realises that Lamont is not our right choice at centre. S Lamont is a great player and will no doubt try harder than everyone else in the team but he does not have the hands for an international centre. With Ansbro out it would be nice to see Evans and NDL get a chance to really attack the centres with Sean on the wing. Failing this, Morrison will have to play as he is the only out and out centre (though his defensive error against Argentina did cost us the game). If only Andy Henderson was still on the scene and not chasing the quick buck at GHA! Such a raw Talent. Dino.

    1. I’ve always thought De Luca would be a better option at 12 but apparently he much prefers to play 13. Certainly he hasn’t needed to for Edinburgh this season with Scott, King and Houston all playing well at 12.

  40. Having already bought my tickets to the England and Wales games I’m disappointed to see Parks start this weekend. I’m glad Jones is starting but let’s be honest, he isn’t going to see the ball.

    Parks doesn’t pass. Sean Lamont doesn’t pass. De Luca doesn’t pass.

    Things might change when Laidlaw comes on, bringing blind side wings into the action, and if Jones can feed off Blair’s snipes we might have a chance.

    When I take my over-priced seat at the Millennium Stadium on the 12th I hope I’ll be sitting down to see Laidlaw and Hogg carve it up from the start. It’s a lions den, but chuck them in – we might just end up with a Scottish equivalent of James O’Connor on our hands.

  41. Prize Bull, are you having a laugh? Morrison has lost all form and is lucky to be in the match day 22 at all. Surely someone who can cover more than the crash ball centre would be a better fit for the subs bench. Hogg may benefit from a few games for the As before he is ready for the international platform but i am sure a lot of fans would like to see him be given the chance.

    Bosman – are you the same ‘Dino’ who brought the ‘Dino’ dummy to the sport of rugby and changed the game forever?

  42. All this “opportunity missed” chat is way off the mark for me.

    The team that has been picked is the team of a coach who thinks that, not only do we have a chance to beat England, but we have a chance to win the whole thing.

    Loose the first game and the 6N is an uphill battle at best. Front five picked itself. Back row, form has been rewarded at 7 and 8 and the new caps need a more experienced colleague in Stroker.

    Cusiter is the form 9 (assuming Laidlaw is being considered only for 10)

    Laidlaw or Weir at 10 is one step too far for this team. Parks in last chance saloon and should come up with the goods.

    You know what you’ll get from Lamont at 12

    NDL’s selection is a mixture of form and injuries to others. He is also in last chance saloon….it’s now or never for this enigma of a player. (funny how Edinburgh’s darling gets way less abuse than our Aussie friend when arguably his lows are lower and highs not higher).

    2 x Exciting wings…I really cant remember if we have ever had two “footballers” like Evans and Jones on the wings together before.

    If Rory Lamont can avoid tackling something solid with his face and give us 80 minutes of his enviable commitment then we’ll be in a good place.

    Anyway….enough of the negativity….we can win this game…get behind the team!!

    Alba Gu Brath!!

  43. Andy…well said. If any Scot sitting near me boos any Scottish player I will be none too happy!

    Pail…would you be saying this if Hogg and Laidlaw weren’t Border men?

  44. Changes are coming . Greig Laidlaw must be the man with the real future and a man that can give Scotland the real impetus and belief. He is the complete finished article in fact the best player available for the 9 or the 10 jersey! I ‘m sure Robinson knows this in his own heart but he may be playing a tactical game to get points on the board. Laidlaw has been simply so good in every department for Edinburgh and his direction and drive on the pitch have been the main reasons Edinburgh have had all the success. This must be Scotland’s best chance for a while to actually beat England and lets hope we can see Laidlaw and his team mates take them to the cleaners. Lee Jones is also a very exciting young player and if he gets the chance to see some quality ball then i’m sure he will deliver the goods. Scotland the Brave.

    1. I’ve not seen much of Laidlaw play (maybe 4 or 5 games on TV), but every time I’ve seen him play, he has missed kicks that Parks, Mossy and even Weir would not have.

    2. Andy, did you see him against Racing Metro?
      He didn’t miss any of what, 15 kicks.

      He is known as Mr Reliable here in Edinburgh.

      He is a great player.

  45. Andy the only game he has missed a kick was when it was very windy. He is very consistent that is his hallmark.He never missed one kick in last Heineken Cup match against London Irish. I think Weir kicks the ball very well too from hand and from spot and he is good to have around. The point is here that a younger mindset with Laidlaw will take us forward for the next 5 years + and there are a number of other young players in all positions also coming through which makes things look very encouraging and interesting for the foreseeable future.

  46. I have just seen the England team. Hats off to Stuart Lancaster for selecting on form! The perceived wisdom is that experience counts above all else so it should be a weak team, but the players he has picked have been lighting up the Aviva Premiership. As a Scot, I’m worried! But whether we win or lose I applaud an opponent for being gutsy. He seems do be doing everything he can to eliminate the bad things about England. I hope we don’t find out on Saturday but later in the championship I will be interested to see whether Ashton is still insulting opponents with his dive.

    1. A very attacking 11 to 15 selection from England.

      We need to get the foot on their throat early up front and starve them of ball.

      I hope Rennie can get on Lamonts shoulder and capitalise on his gainline breaks.

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