All too often the fullback is the last line of defence and if the game dissolves into aerial ping pong, he’s the front line of “attack” too. Of course, having a boot which can send a howitzer down the other end of the pitch doesn’t hurt and over the years this is one areas Scottish fullbacks have usually been fairly decent at in terms of power if not direction.
The ability to ensure that they can shape their opposing player and make a solid tackle are also critical, but they often quite like a jinking run, given they usually get the most time at the back to think about which blind alley to run up.
Who might Scott Johnson choose?
Burst onto the scene at Glasgow and then made a scene-stealing display against France in last years 6 Nations. Hogg is a proper attacking fullback, although there are suggestions he might also represent a solution at 13. Last season in particular saw him kick starting attacks from deep, his elusive running and footwork often making him a difficult player to defend against – case in point being the wonderful solo try against the England Saxons that got him in the Scotland team. Defensively has seemed fairly solid albeit not the biggest hitter in the game. Time spent in the centre makes him an excellent support player too.
Has done fairly well at Edinburgh since coming in, starting virtually all of their matches this season. Clearly on the same wavelength as Tim Visser , he makes some good supporting runs and has the knack of running good lines in midfield. At the back he is a safe pair of hands and an assured left boot. He’s occasionally prone to kicking aimless ball back to the opposition. Of late his attacking from deep seems a bit linear and relatively easy to defend against; he has more luck as an unknown quantity.
Murchie can be hit and miss under the high ball but if conditions are good, so is Murchie. He is certainly a big physical presence in attack and like Hogg is interchangeable in the centre. May be too soon for a first cap but more than likely to feature for the A team against the Saxons – could he do a Hogg and play his way up a level?
Also considered: Not exactly a deep pool of fullbacks, however with Rory Lamont recently turning out for Dundee he should soon be available for selection in the Glasgow squad; Edinburgh’s Tom Brown is also on the comeback from injury and will be keen for more caps. Brown and Lamont can both cover across the back three so it is possible that they could play himself into the reckoning for the bench towards the end of the tournament. Honourable mention too to Wasps club captain Huugoooo Southwell. An impressive boot and a safe and steady approach to the game means Southwell still has something to offer, however as the side build to 2015 it is possibly unlikely he’ll be making his way back to Murrayfield anytime soon.
My pick: Stuart Hogg – made a good impression in this position last season and deserves the opportunity to continue his progression in the national side. He’s the likely long term holder of the 15 jersey.
Team so far: Stuart Hogg; Ryan Grant, Ross Ford, Euan Murray, Richie Gray, Rob Harley, Al Strokosch, Roddy Grant, Johnnie Beattie