Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


The Final Scotland Team of the Season

Greig Laidlaw
Greig Laidlaw - pic © Al Ross

Scotland have made three changes in their starting team for their 11th and final international of the season against Italy in Pretoria on Saturday. It’s been a mixed season with some relative highs (Ireland, last weekend, scoring tries against the All Blacks) and some lows (Tonga, Wales) and the players will soon head off for a well-earned rest.  Or pre-season, for those of them who weren’t quite expecting to be on tour (Fraser Brown).

We have blooded some new caps, showed far more enterprise with ball in hand (well, most of the time) and created the odd Lion. We’ve also often lost the steely spine that epitomises the best Scotland teams.

Anyway, to Loftus Versfeld and the test against Italy on Saturday.

In the backs neither Pete Horne nor Ruaridh Jackson has recovered sufficiently from the injuries sustained against South Africa in Nelspruit last weekend, therefore Tom Heathcote will win his third cap at stand-off having himself recovered from the concussion of a week before. Confused? He may very well be.

In the pack Alastair Kellock returns to win his 55th cap in the second-row for Jim Hamilton, who has returned home for the birth of his second child (congrats Jim). David Denton replaces the injured Ryan Wilson in the back-row after an impressive ball-carrying display off the bench last weekend.

On the bench Grant Gilchrist, Rob Harley and Tim Visser are introduced, with Visser in particular a mystery absentee last week and will be keen to remind us (and Warren Gatland perhaps) what was missing. He’ll also want to get used to playing outside the Scott/Dunbar centre pairing, as that had the look of something decent that could last a fair while…

Scotland head coach Scott Johnson said: “This is the end of a long season for both the northern hemisphere teams in this tournament and, as I’ve said, before we want no rocks under our beach towels after Saturday’s game.

“I was encouraged by our performance against South Africa last week but having set that standard we have to ensure that we build upwards from it against Italy.

“When we gathered in camp in Perthshire last month I said that this tour would be about broadening our base and that we’d find out about whether certain players were ready to play international rugby.

“That has happened and we’ll take a lot from that but we also want to end the tournament on a high against an Italian team that we know well and that we respect greatly.”

Scotland defeated Italy 34-10 at Murrayfield in February and the RBS man of the match that day, Greig Laidlaw, will captain Scotland for a second time on Saturday.

Scotland team to play Italy at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria on Saturday 22 June, kick-off 2.15pm local time (1.15pm BST):

Peter Murchie; Tommy Seymour, Alex Dunbar, Matt Scott, Sean Lamont; Tom Heathcote, Greig Laidlaw (capt); Alasdair Dickinson, Scott Lawson, Euan Murray, Tim Swinson, Alastair Kellock, Alasdair Strokosch, Dave Denton, Johnnie Beattie
Replacements: Fraser Brown, Moray Low, Jon Welsh, Grant Gilchrist, Rob Harley, Henry Pyrgos, Duncan Taylor, Tim Visser.

4 Responses

  1. I’m hoping the boys can finish on a high. Hamilton is a loss (despite the yellow) as he adds some much needed grunt. Balance of the back row isn’t great but is really all we have right now. The centre partnership is looking exciting, and I’m hoping Heathcote gets good ball so we can see what he can do. Once veryone is back we have the makings of a strong squad.
    15. Hogg 14. Maitland 13. Dunbar 12.Scott 11. Visser 10. Weir/Heathcote 9. Laidlaw/Cusiter 1. Grant 2. ? 3. Murray 4. Gray 5. Hamilton 6. Brown 7. Rennie/Barclay/Fusaro 8. Beattie
    I think it is too soon to throw Hogg in at 10. He would need excellent front foot ball to be a success. Jackson has had many opportunities. Gilchrist pushing the middle row pair. Strokosch pushing the back row. If Rennie Barclay and Fusaro get fit there will be great competition there. I have left hooker blank as there is a lot of comp but no stand out player. In my opinion ford has failed to fulfil his potential and has had many mediocre performances. Hall and Lawson past their best. Chance for Lawrie McCarthur Brown Bryce Cochrane etc to try and establish themeselves and become Sco first choice. Cusiter back to full fitness would really push laidlaw and is a very different player. However with this group they need to play a more attacking positive game. The likes of Hogg, Beattie, Maitland, Scott could be very very good players on the world stage if they are given the opportunity to attack and express themselves

  2. Hogg has the potential to be one of the best fullbacks in the world – I really hope he is not tried out in different positions but is instead allowed to work on the areas of his game that are weaker, for example his consistency under the high ball and head on tackling.

    Visser will look like a world beater again when Scotland get better at the breakdown and we get used to playing more rugby at pace as we did against SA.

    The Scott and Dunbar partnership looks like it has real potential to be the first test-class pairing we’ve had in the centres since Leslie-Tait. The question is, where will Bennett fit in?

  3. A big game from Swinson today and it’ll be Gray and Swinson for next years 6N. Ryder isnt that far behind him either.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion