Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Cotter’s Wheel

John Hardie makes a tackle - pic © Al Ross
John Hardie makes a tackle - pic © Al Ross


2015 Rugby World CupSun 27th Sep 2015Elland Road, LeedsKick-off: tbc (UK)39-16
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United States

With the dust having settled on Scotland’s Rugby World Cup opener, and fears of defeat in that game all put to bed, thoughts have turned to USA in Leeds on Sunday.

Not least for Vern Cotter, who is expected to name his team to take on the Eagles today.

Given the four-day turnaround between the Scots’ first two matches, Cotter will make changes – as he has done throughout his tenure.

So who can we expect to see take the field at Elland Road on Sunday?

In the backs, Stuart Hogg may get another run at full-back, but Sean Maitland and Tim Visser may come in and replace Sean Lamont and try-scoring Tommy Seymour on the flanks.

Matt Scott and Mark Bennett formed a formidable partnership on Wednesday, and are likely to be required in the latter pool games, so they may well both take a rest, with Peter Horne and Richie Vernon replacing them in the squad.

Expect Finn Russell to go again at stand-off, with Duncan Weir in reserve for his Warriors’ colleague, while skipper Greig Laidlaw may take a rest, and Henry Pyrgos the most likely to come in.

Up front, there will be less change, with Grant Gilchrist and Ross Ford asked to double-up at lock and hooker, respectively.

Ryan Grant or Gordon Reid will likely start at loosehead, with the other on the bench and Al Dickinson given a rest, while expect Jon Welsh and WP Nel to swap roles at the weekend.

Gilchrist may be partnered by Richie Gray if Cotter feels the 2013 Lion needs gametime, but Tim Swinson appears the more obvious choice to start at lock, with the Castres man again providing cover from the bench.

And in the back-row, Al Strokosch may be deployed at blindside – tasked with felling American giant Samu Manoa, while Ryan Wilson could move over to the openside – a role he has filled previously at club level.

That would allow Cotter to rest John Hardie, industrious and to the fore in much of the good work during the win over Japan, with Josh Strauss likely to start at number eight.

On the bench, do not be surprised if both hookers feature, with Fraser Brown an option to cover the back-row, while Duncan Weir and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne are also likely to get their first tastes of the action.

If the likes of Hogg, Ford and Bennett do run out on Sunday, expect them to be taken off long before the end.

Cotter has always said he will need all 31 players, and he may give them all a run before the second round of games is over.

My Scotland XV to play USA: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Richie Vernon, 12 Peter Horne, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Henry Pyrgos; 1 Ryan Grant, 2 Ross Ford, 3 Jon Welsh, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 5 Tim Swinson, 6 Al Strokosch, 7 Ryan Wilson, 8 Josh Strauss

Replacements: 16 Kevin Bryce, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 WP Nel, 19 Richie Gray, 20 Fraser Brown, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Duncan Weir, 23 Sean Lamont

6 Responses

  1. Now this game is done we actually have such a short turnaround for the next game (did anyone mention 4 day turnarounds??? never seen it mentioned anywhere !!!!!)

    We need to think about the team for Sunday. Based on the substitutions and the fact that they will have 7 days rest before RSA I think they will go with (subject to any unknown knocks):

    Dickinson,Nel & Ford – unloading the bench on 50 minutes no matter what
    Gilchrist – R.Gray
    Strokosch, Wilson, Strauss
    Pyrgos / Russell (Russell wasn’t seriously tested so should be fresh)
    Horne / Bennett (Bennett being withdrawn makes me think he’ll start)
    Maitland / Visser / Hogg (Hogg coming off early for a rest as well)

    Bench – Welsh, Brown, Grant, Swinson, laidlaw, Weir, Vernon, Lamont. Vernon, Swinson & Brown covering backrow

    1. I think we’ll see more extreme changes:

      Welsh, Brown, Grant (not so sure about this, but wouldn’t be surprised)
      Gilchrist, R. Gray
      Strokosch, Wilson, Strauss
      Pyrgos, Weir
      Horne, Vernon
      Visser, Seymour, Maitland

      Bench: Dicko, Nel, Ford, Swinson, Laidlaw, Russell, Scott, Hogg

      Nae doubt I’m totally off the mark (haven’t done my home work on USA), though I think it’s still a strong team. Maybe switch Scott and Horne.

      Hope we will go full strength against SA and Samoa.

  2. I hope SHC gets a game against the USA as Laidlaw would make no impact from the bench if pyrgos is starting

    1. I know what you mean, Bobby, as SHC has such pace that he can make a breathtaking break, which Laidlaw probably couldn’t match. However, I think you’re limiting your thinking to individual breaks and ‘impact’ runs. Laidlaw’s impact, especially if we’re playing too loosely, could be to impose leadership, level-headed structure and sustained phase play so that pressure builds and builds leading to points. That is arguably more important an impact than the occasional scintillating break. Without question, he is much more mature than SHC in these areas, much as I’m excited by SHC’s potential. And Laidlaw actually has a great break on him when he’s looking for it as well. I would have been fine with seeing SHC on the bench instead of Laidlaw, I just don’t think you can say Laidlaw would have ‘no impact’.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion