Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland vs Australia: the teams

Scotland v Australia

It’s going to be a tussle at the breakdown, this one, as both sides name dual opensides at 6 and 7.

Hamish Watson gets a welcome chance to start following a period of about a year when he’s been Edinburgh’s standout performer (though the rest are now thankfully catching up). As at Edinburgh, last year’s breakout star John Hardie is confined to the bench. Beside Watson, John Barclay continues at openside while there’s no space for Josh Strauss as Ryan Wilson packs down at eight. Is there enough heft there?

Up front it’s a start on debut (day-booo for our Aussie commentating friends) for Allan Dell and a second cap for Zander Fagerson. In between them, 99 cap Ross Ford is set for his century.

In the backs, Tommy Seymour sits this one out for personal reasons so in-form Premiership wingers Visser and Maitland form the strike partnership while Alex Dunbar and Huw Jones are a fairly untried pairing in midfield. There’s no bench spot for Mark Bennett, but both Rory Hughes and Ali Price who were initially only invited to train with the squad rather than called-up proper have made the replacements list.

Brown, Reid and Gilchrist alongside Hardie will have potential for impact late on, while Pete Horne has the Quade Cooper role of late in the game chaos…

Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw (CAPT); 1 Allan Dell, 2 Ross Ford, 3 Zander Fagerson, 4 Richie Gray, 5 Jonny Gray, 6 John Barclay, 7 Hamish Watson, 8 Ryan Wilson

Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 Moray Low, 19 Grant Gilchrist, 20 John Hardie, 21 Ali Price, 22 Pete Horne, 23 Rory Hughes

Unavailable through injury: Alasdair Dickinson (hamstring), Josh Strauss (calf), Duncan Taylor (lower leg)

Michael Cheika has named a strong team to take the field, although the back division is considerably different to the World Cup ’15 model. Danger men Folau and Kuridrani are present while Foley and Genia are a classy pairing at half-back.

Second rows aside, in the pack it’s a familiar bunch with Stephen Moore once again captaining the side and with the P-ooper axis in place in the back row, the tussle at the breakdown could be epic – but hopefully not utterly one-sided.

Australia: 15. Israel Folau, 14. Dane Haylett-Petty, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 12. Reece Hodge, 11. Henry Speight, 10. Bernard Foley, 9. Will Genia; 1. Scott Sio, 2. Stephen Moore (CAPT), 3. Sekope Kepu, 4. Rory Arnold, 5. Adam Coleman, 6. David Pocock, 7. Michael Hooper, 8. Lopeti Timani

Replacements: 16. Tolu Latu, 17. Tom Robertson, 18. Allan Alaalatoa, 19. Rob Simmons, 20. Will Skelton, 21. Dean Mumm, 22. Nick Phipps, 23. Quade Cooper

22 Responses

  1. Strange choice for the backs subs. Would of liked to see Pyrgos and Bennet taking bench spots. Also not convinced by Hughes.

    1. Hughes is far better in defence than Hoyland, there’s already enough creativity in the backline and with Visser on one wing we might need someone solid Lamont style to come on in the second half

    2. Normally I would agree with you about Hughes but he’s been really in form for Glasgow recently. He deserves a chance.

  2. What’s up with Hardie? A few months ago he was ‘1st name on the teamsheet’ material. Figured his more limited game time at Edinburgh was because they were giving him a few months semi-rest after a 2 year heavy schedule. But he’s now benched here too. Anyone who goes to Edinburgh games can shed some light? Watson is good but it was unthinkable a few months ago that he’d be picked ahead of Hardie.
    Curious to see how Huw Jones does, he looks electric in attack on youtube clips.

    1. I think that he was injured for a while and since returning, he’s been out of form. I think that I would picked him ahead of Barclay though who’s been average for Scarlets recently.

      1. I’d have preferred to see Hardie and Watson, not least so we could have had the portmanteau battle of Hard-on vs Pooper…

  3. Overall it’s a good squad, although like others, am disappointed not to see Bennett in the mix. Clearly Horne is in for his versatility. I am actually pretty pleases to see Price in the squad over Pygros. It will be interesting to see how he gets on if he gets a chance. He is so different from Laidlaw so could potentially open up a different type of game if that’s what’s needed. Happy to see Jones start!

  4. Front row aside, I reckon we’ve got a half decent side there. Visser will be tested defensively and Laidlaw will have to speed up his game if we are to cut through their midfield, which looked very good against the Taffs. Russell will get space to play so let’s hope he’s in the mood and the rest follow suit.

    The scrum might be a problem but the Aussie scrum isn’t massive and they do like to get the ball away quickly so I don’t see too many pushing contests. I suspect we’ll see Hardie and Watson on together by the end to combat Pocock and Hooper. The Aussie backs are different class though so I expect us to lose but not by as much as the ba’heids in Cardiff!

  5. Pretty disappointed with this selection. “Bigger backs, smaller forwards” is a frankly bizarre direction to be going in. After what Wales offered up last week, why on earth are we following their selection criteria?

    Hoyland must really be ruing that interception attempt against Zebre as his work-rate and strike-rate both put Maitland to shame. Also, as much as I like him, not sure what match turning impact Hughes is expected to have off the bench?

    Barclay over Bradbury is also disappointing – there’s zero bulk in that back-row (who’s in the team to tackle the likes of Kuridrani, Timani, & Sio except for Dunbar? Good luck avoiding injury in this one Alex). Bradbury’s been the standout player in Scotland in the early part of the season and at 21 is plenty old enough to play 6 at international level. I know he’s been hard done by in the past, but Barclay isn’t going to last much longer at this level, so why keep playing him? Having been out for the prime of his career, he doesn’t offer the leadership to justify his spot.

    Finally, 5 players in the match day 23 from Edinburgh is way too few and 6 in the starting lineup from teams outside of Scotland is way too fragmented – again it’s the same number as Wales had in their starting 15 last week and look how that went. Feel we’re going to lack real cohesion for this one.

    Anyway, hoping this team surprises me.

  6. Will be especially interested in Huw Jones and given it is an experienced back line I dont think this is a bad time to see what he can do at International level. Noticed Strauss is injured with a calf and had he been available I think he may have been the added bulk some have mentioned (perhaps in place of Barclay). Think the front row is the best available with Ford adding the experience and Brown will be good off the bench. I dont think this is the game to introduce Bradbury but looking ahead I hope he may get a spot on the bench against Georgia although this doesnt mean going with anything like a weaker team it is just a way of potentially easing him in.

  7. Fairly happy with this squad. The backline looks balanced and exciting. Seymour is a miss of course but Maitland and Visser are class acts, doing very well in the Prem. Huw Jones looks quality and it’s about time a fit Dunbar got back to his best in a Scotland shirt. Hope Russell and Laidlaw get the team playing in the right areas and at a good tempo, although doubt we’ll have too much of the ball. In terms of the forwards, tight 5 are about as good as we can expect. Hope Fagerson is able to step up his scrummaging, but I’m sure his loose play will be top notch. Bit surprised with Dell starting over Reid but Reid probably offers a better impact of the bench. The back row is interesting. Without Strauss’s injury I was expecting a back row of 6-Wilson 7-Hardie 8-Strauss and 20-Watson. Im happy Watson is getting a start, and Strauss’s size and carrying will be a miss. But that back row looks very mobile and hard working, so hopefully we’ll be able to out work the Aussies.
    Overall, quite optimistic about this team and I hope a few players come back for later in the series, particularly Strauss and Seymour, and Bennett gets a look in again.

  8. That’s an ok looking squad but again we’re undone by the overall lack of quality outside of our first XV. To be beating the southern hemisphere teams we need our top guys to be playing close to their top ability at least so it’s asking a lot now other than a decent performance. Combinations are where the weaknesses show up. Front row, back row and centre are all first time selections. This smells very much like a trial match for the Argie game which prob has a bigger impact on our world cup seeding. Definite back row bulk concern, perhaps Du Preez call up if Strauss doesn’t recover in Nov. Bradbury needs a bit of time so get him introduced with the Georgia game before we’ve finished biggin him up. If we do want to progress further then we really need to see the quality of the handling improve through the incoming players. It’s not enough for forwards to just crash in, they need to have the skill to get the ball through the hands so the backs can find the space. I’m expecting that will be a GT priority but one that BVC can do now too.

  9. Some left-field selections with untested combinations across the team does not bode well for an effective performance. Has Cotter accepted an inevitable loss and decided to try out players? Having announced his forced departure the team is gradually being estranged from him, as the arrival of the new coaching team gets closer.
    The back-row looks selected on the basis of trying to match the Australian team at the breakdown, but in consequence is seriously under-powered. The front row does not look test quality. A heavy defeat will knock the stuffing out of the team, undermining the players for the other 2 matches. Three losses will see Cotter departing sooner than planned.

  10. Back row is crying out for Bradbury – it might be too early for him but with no Denton, Strauss or Du Preez we are seriously lacking fire power. I hope Watson goes full beast mode, because really it is him, Fagerson and Gray who are going to be doing a lot of the hard yards.

  11. We’ve all been more or less agreeing on various threads this past year or so that in many positions there are good signs of increasing strength and depth in Scottish international rugby. For instance almost a luxury of choice in the centre. How this squad performs on Saturday will be a bit of a stocktake on strength and depth. Whatever the result, I do think we will see a fast and furious Test on Saturday. I also hope and expect that the Wallabies will be facing nothing like the one-dimensional, turgid Warrenball that they so skilfully picked apart last Saturday. Come on, Scotland!

  12. Its a team picked to play a loose open game, the “thing” is – is the pack strong/big enough to stop the Aussies putting us on the back foot.

    Dell a big shout (Ford’s beef will be needed)

    Anyone know what’s up with Seymour / Pygros?

    Bradbury may have been an option to replace Strauss…

    Scotland need to disrupt / get in amongst them & get the ball to Hogg, Jones, Russell

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion