The openside flanker is very much the in vogue position in modern rugby as grown men display romantic feelings for Richie McCaw and what he can do with his hands. A number 7 knows the rules of the game inside out and then spends 80 minutes trying to get away with disregarding those same rules as much as possible.
The best can floor a man much larger, faster or heavier, then get to their feet and make off with the ball before anyone’s noticed. Ross Rennie was the pick of last season’s opensides despite that 2 on 1 overlap, but he is out injured. Who then can we depend on to snaffle and tackle?
Despite keeping John Barclay out of the Glasgow side for long periods, Andy Robinson resisted calls to bring the youngster into squad for the autumn tests. Resisted may be putting it mildly. Refused might be a more fitting word with some wondering what the Warrior’s number 7 had done to personally offend Robinson as one Rabo Man of the Match award followed another. A ferocious player and real nuisance at the breakdown, a lack of bulk and height (5ft 11 and 14 stone) may be the only thing standing between him and international rugby. That and his current groin injury which he may not recover from in time to claim the spot that will surely be his before long.
A former 7s player, Grant has been unfortunate to find himself without a cap due to injuries and the form of others and deserves an opportunity to play at a higher level. He’s been consistent in attack and defence for Edinburgh this season and was one of their better players during the 1872 Cup. He has the ability to drive opponents backwards, a rare understanding of the dark arts and a deceptive turn of speed. Plus he is a 7. Injuries to Fusaro, Rennie and Barclay mean he should be considered, but will the Scotland selectors fit a round peg in to a square hole again?
Vernon was unlucky to find himself left out of the autumn test squad after the successful summer tour. Quick with ball in hand and a decent forager he’s been playing at number 8 for Sale but can also play at 7. Despite all the problems at the club, Vernon’s form, like Richie Gray’s has been the exception rather than the rule.
It’s hard to look at Brown’s individual performance without also considering his performance as captain. Most players, Brown included, have said failure on the pitch was more their fault than Robinson’s and so some of the responsibility must lie with the captain. A member of the famous “Killer B’s” back row but like Barclay his recent performances have been middling rather than exhilarating. One thing that would surely count in his favour would be that in playing for Saracens, he is a Scot accustomed to winning.
Also considered: Ross Rennie (injured) & John Barclay (injured)
Were it not for injury Ross Rennie could be straight in at 7 and there may still be time for him to recover. The same cannot be said of Barclay who was sub-par in the autumn and even though he is injured he might even be third choice at Glasgow now. As it is, Roddy Grant gets the nod with fitness the deciding factor over Fusaro.
Team so far: Ryan Grant, Ross Ford, Euan Murray, Richie Gray, Rob Harley, TBA, Roddy Grant