Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Gray and Denton Out For Ireland Clash

Jonny Gray faces France - pic © Al Ross/Novantae Photography
Jonny Gray faces France - pic © Al Ross/Novantae Photography

Scotland forwards Jonny Gray and David Denton have been ruled out of this Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations match against Ireland in Dublin .

David Denton has returned to his club, Bath Rugby, where he will continue his rehabilitation from the groin injury sustained on the eve of the Italy match in Rome. While Denton’s injury has given a chance to both Ryan Wilson and Josh Strauss to deputise, and arguably with more success than Denton did in his two games, the loss of Gray is a major blow.

A scan yesterday confirmed that Gray had sustained a partial pectoral tear in Sunday’s win over France, and he has subsequently been ruled out of this weekend’s game. The most obvious choice is Tim Swinson who has been resigned to the bench for most of the tournament so far. One of Edinburgh’s twins Ben and Alex Toolis is the most likely choice to slot in on the bench with Grant Gilchrist still out injured.

Scott Cummings anyone?

27 Responses

  1. Hmm Swinson has been playing well for Glasgow but our line out would suffer if he was starting. I’d prefer Ben Toolis but Cotter doesn’t seem to fancy him. Harley might bring Jonny’s workhorse tackle-bot qualities, and is a pretty good jumper in the line out but doesn’t carry with anywhere near Gray’s close quarter intent. Basically, Jonny Gray is a superhuman and we’re now doomed!

    Real shame Gilchrist isn’t fit.

    1. I think Harleys light for a backrower, nevermind lock. Ben Toolis for me, decent at disrupting lineouts, has a couple of inches on Swinson too, which they need against Toner…

      1. Where are you getting your numbers from Jonny? Wikipedia (and I’m not saying it’s right) has Harley at 109 KG (Warriors website has it as less), which is 5 KG lighter than Strauss and 10 KG lighter than Denton. He’s also lighter by at least 5 KG than Swinson or Toolis in the second row. I like Rob Harley, and he was a favourite of BVC in the early part of his tenure, but it’s hard to see how bringing him in the second row isn’t going to lead to a reduction in bulk. He is a lot lighter than Jonny.

  2. Ben Toolis for me with Swinson on the bench. If we are building a World Cup squad this is a great opportunity for him to show he can be in the same league as the Grays and Gilchrist in BVC’s plans. We do need additional depth in the second row. Here is an opportunity for another young player to step up.

  3. Jonny Gray will be a huge loss for his size, strength and workrate but it’s another test for this developing and maturing team and an opportunity for Tim Swinson, whom I’m sure Cotter will pick. The new found confidence in the squad should help Swinson fit in and make a big contribution. I would stick with Horne against Ireland even if Russell is passed fit, I felt he added extra pace to the backline and is clearly a clever player, always taking the right option, who’s on form. Finn Russell will, no doubt, be our number one choice for years to come but this is another chance to give Horne back up experience as an international fly half. I also think that Hogg, who likes to be involved a lot, thrives on the extra kicking duties.
    As always, it will be tough in Ireland but this team is now starting to cut out mistakes, is giving away fewer penalties, showing more patience when offloading and generally improving overall. There’s no reason why they can’t win.

    1. Can anyone make sense of why you would not have Hogg do all the kicking from drop outs/penalties to touch etc? Russell doesn’t have a particularly big boot and i think the extra reach from Hogg took huge pressure off. Even the missed touch was so long that we had time to regroup and didn’t compound one mistake with one straight after and that greater counter attack was what made the chance for Taylor.

      1. A very good question. Penalties, certainly- maybe not drop outs as it might signal ball is going long, which mostly it does. Some intensive sessions with Hogg to improve accuracy on shorter kicks would put that to bed. Nothing I like better than a massive, pressure relieving penalty and no-one better than Hogg to do so.
        Quite agree!!

      2. Hogg is not as accurate – although he did have a superb game (including kicking) on Sunday I’m not sure he could repeat that every time. Happy to be proved wrong. I think the main reason is positioning – having the full-back take penalties to touch and drop-outs means he is automatically out of position for any counter-attack by the opposition.
        Not even Big Gav took the kicks to touch.

  4. I would like to see Rob Harley play, it would help to counter Ireland’s brilliant (sometimes illegal) breakdown play.

    1. Mostly illegal. They are the biggest and best cheats in the NH and it is a cornerstone of their recent success.

  5. I remember a quote about Australian cricket brothers Steve and Mark Waugh – where someone countered Steve Waughs sledging by suggesting that he isn’t even the best player in his family. For those clamouring for Ben Toolis I would argue that brother Alex is a slightly better bet and should be the bench option this weekend behind Swinson.

    1. From the little ive seen of them Alex seems to have slightly better handling skills but Ben seems ‘Harder’ (weird considering they’re the same size). Rumours Alex will be heading back to oz, Melbourne Rebels have an eye on him…

  6. I rate Swinson , he is not Jonny Gray however he does the basics well, is a competent scrumager, which we will need against Ireland.

  7. With JG out, no matter whether it’s Swinson or a Toolis (outside option of Harley) that comes in, I don’t think the scrummaging or line out will be the most noticeable’loss’ when it comes to contribution. It’s the tackling. I’ve quoted the figures before for JG and that will be miss. I suspect it will mean the back row (short odds for Barclay Hardie and Strauss again) having to increase their tackling rate and success.
    Considering the nature of the injury, I suspect we won’t see FR this weekend. So it will be straight choice. Horne to reward his performance or Jackson to bring in an established outside half, with PH, again covering the bench. That said, if it is decided that territory is key, Weir may even get a call, but with my warriors hat on I’d prefer to see him face Leinster on Friday.

  8. Agreed.

    Thing is, though, it’s not just the tackling. People miss it because he doesn’t make a lot of yardage, but his carries are absolutely pivotal to the way we play. He’s our go-to guy on slow ball, because he’s a freaking genius at presenting the ball well under pressure. That builds momentum, and allows Laidlaw to get into the game and the other forwards to break the line.

    7 of our 8 tries (apart from Taylor’s lovely bit of improv against les bleus) have come through phase play against well set defences. No mistakes, no turnovers – our attack has just been beating defenses. You need momentum to make that happen, and whenever a team slow our ball down, it goes to Gray, he sets it up and all of a sudden we have quick ball again.

    His management of the game too is freakishly good in a 22 year old. Laidlaw, Richie, Nel, Visser and obviously Hogg have rightly got plaudits for the third France try. But for me, the key moment is after the Richie break when Laidlaw gets pulled into a ruck. That should have given the French time to slow the ball down and reorganise. But watch Gray. On the situation in a flash, makes the pass to Nel without breaking stride, then straight onto Nel’s shoulder to make a fantastic clearout, force the pen advantage and give the backs the confidence to try some Harlem Globetrotters stuff out wide.

    Gutted we won’t be seeing him again in Ireland. In attack and defense, you don’t realise the impact he’s having until you focus just on him. But once you do, you realise you’re watching the whole game happen, right there.

    Good luck Swinson. Thoroughly decent pro, will give everything to the cause. But we could bring in two players and still miss Gray.

    1. Re the “go to guy for slow ball”, I noticed that too, every time it slows down it goes to Jonny he smashes it up (usually with a helping shove from big brother) and presents it quickly and away we go again. If he continues his good form he has to be a shoe in for the Lions.

    2. Good call! Having read the passage about the 3rd try on Sunday I’ve just gone back and watched it again and you’re right. That said, I think we’re all in broad agreement about just how good JG is. I said on another thread that Hardie slipped under the radar a wee bit on Sunday (in terms of plaudits) but I suspect much of his work falls into a very similar bracket as JG. You could argue that in the above scenario that that is what he is in there for but it is still worth celebrating. Dare I say it, a shoo-in for captain, sooner rather than later perhaps?

  9. Any rumours about Russell? As good a game as Horne had at the weekend I think we need someone who is a more solid tactical kicker against Ireland. France were flinging it about everywhere which suited us fine but Ireland and Sexton won’t do that. I wouldn’t go so far as to start Weir if Russell isn’t available I don’t think but how reliable is Jackson? If Russell does make it I would be tempted to start Horne at 12, it’s his best position and Dunbar had a solid but unspectacular game. I would normally want to keep Dunbar and Taylor together to try and get some kind of partnership going but its the last game of the tournament.

    1. Russell is on the Graduated return to play protocol. It appears that this includes a 7 day rest period followed by 4 consecutive days of gradual return to training. I think that that means he can’t play.

    1. Judas. Confident that the scrum will not crumble. Whoever VC opts for will do a job in that area. As myself and others are saying the main concern will be the defensive work rate, and JGs ability to restart the momentum. I like Swinson, and the Toolises, but they ain’t JG.

      1.8T. Agree with your concerns. I think Jackson is reliable and more than capable but Weir has a shout depending on how the coaches decide to fashion the game against Ireland. If they decide territorial pressure is the key then Weir is likely to get the nod. My understanding is that Warriors will announce their team, for Friday, tomorrow so I guess that will give a big clue. Not sure when VC is announcing his choice.

      1. Should be lunchtime today. Has been lunchtime Thursday thus far (except France game, which was lunchtime Friday with it being a Sunday game).
        Some interesting choices to be made. Jackson or Weir or Horne for Russell? Stick with Dunbar/Taylor combo? Who comes in for JG? And of course further permutations with the bench depending on the above and whether the likes of Bennett are recalled to the 23.

      2. I’d play Horne at 10 and would like to see Toolis in but suspect it will be Swinson with Toolis or Hardie on the bench. Go for continuity and nothing too drastic. Bring in Jackson on the bench so that the Warriors aren’t totally shafted – who cares about Wasps?!

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion