Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Our Scotland XV – The Back Three

Sean Maitland - photo © Alastair Ross

When tasked with picking the back three for this series of articles there was some semblance of competition and you’d struggle to see past Visser, Maitland and Hogg leading the charge.

That was about 3 weeks or more ago, and it’s safe to say that those options have dwindled to the point that eyes are now looking across the broader back division to see where the some support can be drafted in from.

The loss of Hogg for these games is a big blow.  Dynamic and fleet of foot, his time with the Lions over the summer with have hopefully helped his development and he would normally be a first pick for a Scotland.  Whilst the team coped with his absence in the summer you have to think his absence will be felt.

Visser is also gone and already looks like the 6 Nations may come too quick for him also.  He hit the international scene with a bang and whilst he has more rough edges than a dirty penny he gives the side pure finishing power.  Similarly the loss of Saracens Duncan Taylor from the squad hits the depth and whilst he may not have started he surely would have been given the chance to make an impact from the bench.  With all the talk of this being the start of the prep for 2015 it’s vital that Taylor gets as much exposure to the international game in advance of this tournament.

So, who does this leave?  Firstly, as a winger playing lower league pub rugby I was gutted to not get my call up – every team needs and old, wheezy, out of shape, slow winger!  In my absence, the choice of starting back three is pretty straight forward for me.

Fullback – Greig Tonks

It’s his natural position, he runs fairly hard and straight, can spot a gap and has a decent boot on him.  If we are truly looking to build for 2015 we need to give second string players a shot at their preferred position when the first choice (in this case Hogg) are not available.  He played out in South Africa and should be given the chance to developed further in these next set of games.

Also considered: Jack Cuthbert

Wings – Sean Maitland and Tommy Seymour

Sean Maitland hasn’t set the heather on fire at 15 for Glasgow; perhaps playing fullback for Glasgow is a different kettle of fish to doing it for Canterbury. I’m convinced he’s most effective out in the wing, and if he has one weakness it’s under the high ball and he may get a bit more protection on the wing.  He’s had a summer with the Lions and has made a good impression since landing on these shores.  He’s got pace to burn and a good change of direction – he’s just a very clever rugby player.  With no Visser and Hogg, Scotland will be looking to Maitland to provide the X-factor and a bit of cutting edge, provided off-pitch issues do not intervene.

Tommy Seymour played in the Summer tour and has been a consistent performer for Glasgow.  Another speed demon I’ve always been impressed by his sheer speed at taking the ball, not afraid of contact and has a knack for picking incisive lines…he just needs the support on the shoulder.  These series of games present a big opportunity to nail down a wing spot for the national team – if he can put in three solid performances, in both attack and defence, he can put himself in prime position for a start come the 6 Nations.

Outside of these three the cupboard is fairly bare. Lamont obviously has form on the wing and has looked in great shape lately however I’d imagine he’ll be used in the centres as the battering ram.  He does at least provide cover in case of injuries.  If he is to move out to wing I’d expect this to be at Tonks expense, with Maitland dropping back to full back.  Similarly the other main option is the potential re-inclusion of Max Evans, however he missed the South Africa tour and you can’t escape the fact that he’s perhaps been overtaken in the pecking order.  With Taylor and Visser missing it opens up a slot on the bench and it may be here that Max Evans is able to make an appearance.

Also considered: Nikki Walker and Lee Jones are both absent from the squad.

Our team so far: 15. Tonks, 14. Maitland, 11, Seymour, 10. Heathcote, 9. Laidlaw,  8. Beattie, 7. Fusaro, 6. Strokosch, 5. R Gray, 4. Swinson, 3. Cross, 2. MacArthur, 1. Grant

Bench: Dickinson, Ford, Welsh, Hamilton, Brown, Cusiter, Weir, Lamont

17 Responses

  1. “Lamont obviously has form on the wing and has looked in great shape lately however I’d imagine he’ll be used in the centres as the battering ram. He does at least provide cover in case of injuries.”

    If Lamont plays in the centres, I will cry. At international level, he’s a winger and nothing else.

  2. No one wants to see a grown man cry. I don’t want to see Shlong at centre either, but would be happy enough if he started on the wing, with Maitland at 15 and Seymour. Would not be opposed to Tonks, Seymour, Maitland either though, with Lamont ahead of Evans for the bench spot for me. The choice of centres here is going to be interesting…

  3. It will be interesting to how these ‘off pitch issues’ affect squad selection. It appears to have gone a bit quiet in terms of coverage but could have a massive impact on selection if charges are brought.

  4. I don’t believe for a second Lamont will play at centre when we have three fine, fit centres who need to gain experience + Nick De Luca.

    Lamont on the wing would be fine as cover, Seymour and Maitland are nailed on. I’ve never been particularly impressed by Tonks but I suppose we’re running out of options with Murchie also out.I think I’d actually prefer Max Evans on the wing to Tonks at Full Back, he can;t be that bad if he’s playing for Castres?

  5. Good debate folks. Rationale for Tonks was that (a) pretty much last man standing and (b) more international exposure can only help his development. If we want a strong RWC ’15 squad we need our 2nd line players to have 10-15caps each otherwise you run the risk of having to rely on inexperience. Tonks is a classic back up player and now the opportunity is here need to try and use it – playing against the likes of S.A can only help his development.

  6. I thought that Maitlands been ok at 15 for Glasgow and good at attacking the line.i definitely like Seymour on the wing as he was quick and strong in South Africa with Lamont who always gives everything he’s got on the other wing.definitely a blow losing visser (and Hogg!) particularly when de Luca seems to be playing nicely for Edinburgh as I think Visser plays better with NDL inside him. That said very interested to see who’s selected at outside centre with Scott probably at inside centre.Has Dunbar recovered yet?Also does anyone know who are the Glasgow guys associated with the assault?

  7. It probably depends on how Dunbar’s injury is, but if he’s OK then like others I would expect Lamont to be on the wing rather than in the centres, with Seymour on the other wing and Maitland at FB.

    Tonks looked decent for Edinburgh last season, but I wasn’t particularly impressed with him in SA in the summer. I have to say that, despite arguably never really making it at Bath, I’ve been quite impressed with Cuthbert so far this season. That said, for me they’d both still be behind a fit Hogg or Murchie for the 15 jersey.

  8. With back three injuries I’d say Mcguigan should at least get a call up. I mentioned it when the squad was announced but he’s been pretty good for Glasgow so far this season. I wouldn’t write off Taylor though, just saw the Aviva premiership highlights on ITV4 and his rampaging run against Newcastle was quite impressive although he might be considered as more of a threat in the centre by Johnson. My back three would probably be Maitland at 15, Seymour and Lamont on the wings for South Africa/Australia but I’d say a more experimental back three would be a good choice against Japan (just not Evans on the wing please!). It’d be a shame for Lamont to be dropped from the side despite his age, I’d like to see him make another World Cup and the young guys could do with having a veteran alongside them in the back line, there’s not many left!

  9. Maitland,Seymour,Evans & Tonks on the bench. Lamont ok as back up, just keep him & De Luca from the centre or its a waste of time having any pace man on the wing! Would like to see Dunbar & Scott get a run at centre as they seemed to work well together in SA

  10. At the risk of courting controversy (or a lot worse), and getting ahead of topic, I think it’s harsh on NDL to suggest that the wings won’t see any decent ball if he’s playing. I reckon Tim Visser would strongly disagree, and I have recollections of a fine pass putting in Ansbro during the last RWC. NDL’s issue is unpredictable and memorable brain f@rts at international level. I have been hugely critical in the past, but nevertheless believe in selecting on form. He has an understanding with Scott and with Visser, and his rush defence can be excellent. He’s playing well just now. I also remember a game in Ireland in 2010 where O’Driscoll was kept very quiet indeed. I know I’m asking for it here, and this bit isn’t even about centres! All that said, I wouldn’t necessarily start Nick at 13 ahead of Dunbar, Bennett or Taylor, but I wouldn’t rule him out either. He’s definitely ahead of Lamont or Evans in that position in my mind though (in a vain attempt to tie this back in to topic…).

    1. I agree to an extent. NDL just can’t handle the pressure of test rugby and his decision-making goes quickly awry but he does have the ability and I suspect would look fine playing for a team where he was surrounded by a little more quality. I don’t necessarily worry if he is playing, I just except that the occasional sublime moment will be balanced out by the ridiculous.

      That said, he’s surely behind Dunbar, Bennett, and Taylor for a place in the 23 but given the inevitable injuries he’ll probably pick up half a dozen more caps in his career.

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  12. Pls pls pls just say ‘no’ to ideas of McGuigan and Cuthbert on the international stage – they are not of sufficient quality.

    Maitland is the only test standard player for me at fullback, with Tonks needing to kick on at club level first. On the wings, Seymour has been going well for Glasgow and deserves his chance, while SLamont brings a passion that is desperately needed at this level and can more than manage a decent performance on the wing (not in the centre tho pls)

  13. Team’s out –

    1. Grant
    2. Ford
    3. Murray
    4. Kellock
    5. Swinson
    6. Strokosch
    7. Brown (c)
    8. Denton
    9. Laidlaw
    10. Jackson
    11. Lamont
    12. Scott
    13. NDL
    14. Seymour
    15. Maitland

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion