Lions squad leaves Scotland in good health

The announcement of just three Scots among the 2013 British and Irish Lions will leave Scott Johnson with an almost full-strength side to select for the forthcoming tour to South Africa.

With Stuart Hogg and Sean Maitland included amongst the backs for Warren Gatland’s tourists, and Richie Gray the only Scottish forward to make the final cut, Johnson will be able to call upon a number of experienced campaigners for the Quadrangular tournament against Samoa, Italy and the host nation.

Captain Kelly Brown and try-machine Tim Visser were, according to Gatland, very unlucky to miss out, while many had Glasgow prop Ryan Grant and Edinburgh captain Greig Laidlaw among their squads, but all will now focus their attention towards a tough trip.

Johnson is likely to introduce Edinburgh player of the season Greig Tonks to the senior fold for the first time in the absence of Hogg at full-back, while Nikki Walker, Lee Jones and Max Evans are in contention to take Maitland’s vacated wing berth. The likelihood though is that Sean Lamont will move back out, once again creating selection headaches in the centre.

Meanwhile, Gray’s absence in the pack once again pits Al Kellock against Grant Gilchrist in the battle to partner Jim Hamilton in the Scotland boiler-house, with the latter earning selection for his first cap in the final match of the Six Nations in Paris.

Euan Murray and Ross Ford, themselves Lions four years ago, will draw upon their experiences of touring South Africa and provide the squad with essential top-level experience as Johnson’s men attempt to bolster their position in the World Rankings.

While the disappointment of missing out will be palpable for many of Scotland’s top performers, the tour to South Africa represents a chance for them to prove to Gatland and his staff that they made the wrong decision.

There is also a crucial issue of back-up players for the Lions, who will face injury worries Down Under, and impressive performances in the Quadrangular tournament could propel any number of Scots onto the plane to Australia, even if a little later than the three originally selected.

Probable Scotland team for summer tour: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Sean Lamont, 13 Nick De Luca, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Greig Laidlaw; 1 Ryan Grant, 2 Ross Ford, 3 Euan Murray, 4 Jim Hamilton, 5 Al Kellock, 6 Kelly Brown (c), 7 Ross Rennie, 8 Johnnie Beattie

Others in squad: Peter Murchie, Max Evans, Alex Dunbar, Alex Grove,  Nikki Walker, Lee Jones, Tom Heathcote, Henry Pyrgos, Sean Kennedy; Al Dickinson, Steven Lawrie, Dougie Hall, Moray Low, Grant Gilchrist, Tom Ryder, John Barclay, Richie Vernon, Ryan Wilson, Al Strokosch

14 comments on “Lions squad leaves Scotland in good health

  1. MJW on

    I’m not sure what SJ will do, but there is no way I’d play de Luca at 13. I’m not even sure I’d take him on tour. Serial failure to step up to international level. Instead, I’d play Dunbar at 13, with Horne covering yhe centres from the bench.

    I’d also play heathcote at 10, Swinson at lock instead of Kellock, and MacArthur at hooker.

    A Tonks, Visser and Lamont back three would be fine, but Seymour deserves a slot on the bench. As does Sean Kennedy.

    • Rory Baldwin on

      I think there are a number of names not mentioned here that should definitely go (Welsh, Horne, Seymour) or could go (Cuthbert, Bennett). I’d even be tempted to try Scott at 13 with Horne at 12.

      I’d take Kellock as captain but if he wanted time at home with his new bairn you could hardly blame him – there are a few other older guys (Murray, De Luca) that might be “rested” in favour of getting some new guys some experience. But you don’t want to leave the squad wholly without some old heads.

  2. Rory Baldwin on

    Is this too crazy an XV?

    Tonks, S Lamont, Bennett/Dunbar, Scott, Visser, Heathcote/Jackson, Laidlaw;
    Grant, Ford, Welsh, Ryder, Hamilton, Brown (c), Rennie, Beattie

  3. Stephen Smith on

    After their respective seasons can you really suggest that there will be 7 Edinburgh players versus 4 Glasgow in the 1st XV (I an an Edinburgh fan)

  4. Gavin Harper on

    I think it’s quite easy to say that Tonks will certainly be in with a shout of the 15 jersey, as will Pete Murchie – the inclusion of the Edinburgh players speaks for itself on international form.

    As for De Luca, I think we need experience somewhere in that midfield, and if it’s not to be him, I’d persist with Lamont at outside centre and we’d have a debate on our hands about a wing berth.

    I’d be very disappointed to see us ‘rest’ too many players and I’m not sure if Horne/Bennett are ready yet

  5. FF on

    Not really sure De Luca has ever stepped up to international level and the experience he brings is of repeatedly having brain farts that cost his team dearly. Horne meanwhile is in the form of his life, Dunbar has been the standout 13 for most of the season and Bennet will be a future Scotland star without doubt. Get these boys on the pitch so when they are playing in next year’s 6N they have some caps under their belt!

  6. ASwarrior on

    Would love to see Nikki Walker back playing in the Scotland team!
    De Luca just doesn’t cut it i’m afraid. Too many stupid mistakes, you would think with the experience he has he would stop them but he doesn’t. Hope Dunbar gets a shot at 13.
    And we need to play Heathcote at 10, Jackson has no consistency in his game so having him as Scotland’s 10 isn’t going to work. Lets get Heathcote some caps under his beltand hopefully he can contend for the 10 shirt in the Autumn tests/6 nations.

    • andy k on

      There is only one person who could challenge De Luca in the “silly mistakes” stakes….and thats Nikki Walker!!!

      How can Jackson develop consistency in his game when he isnt started for more than 2 games in a row. Pick one of the 10’s and stick with them!!!

    • ASwarrior on

      Opinions are opinions but I think brining in Walker could be a great shout.
      Jackson isn’t consistent enough even at Glasgow! He shows signs of greatness every once in a while then has a run of poor games. If you can’t be consistent at club level you shouldn’t be given the opportunity at international.
      Heathcote playing consistently well at Bath proves he should be given an opportunity!

    • Andy K on

      Heathcote has started 3 Aviva games this season (and Bath lost 2 of them).

      I’m not sure how that adds up to a player playing “Consistently Well”.

  7. Dave on

    Bennett is in the U20s squad for the Junior World Championship so he won’t be going.

    I would like to see Dunbar and Horne get capped. Dunbar to start and Horne capped off the bench. However, I think de Luca will go on the tour and that either him or Lamont will be at 13 for these games.

  8. MJW on

    Gav,

    NDL gives us the ‘experience’ of getting carded and making other daft decisions at key times. Lamont is a more natural winger, his defence at 13 isn’t good enough for international level.

    Dunbar has been Scotland’s best 13 this season by miles. Not sure how you can say Horne isn’t ready, he’s been superb for Glasgow. Scott is an experienced player by now, he’ll ease Dunbar into it.

    I’m not in favour of ditching all our stalwarts – Brown, Hamilton, Grant, Beattie, Barclay, Laidlaw and Lamont should all start. That’s a good spine to bring in the new guys around.

  9. Kev on

    Blair Cowan at Worcester Warriors is Scottish Qualified. Can play 8/6 and is a big carrier.

  10. Angus on

    Tickets to South Africa – booked!! Going to be a watershed tour for Scotland. Lets hope it is seen as such and the opportunity to blood some news caps and to mix it up a bit tactically. Can’t wait for these double headers. Anyone else heading over?

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