How Many Scots?

With the 2017 British and Irish Lions squad due to be announced this week, here’s the legally mandated (and due to be proven massively inaccurate?) Lions prediction post.

Most of the squads published by pundits in the (UK) national press show a gloomy outlook for Scottish Lions fans. Despite our best Six Nations tournament in many years, Scotland could be on the receiving end of a perfect selectorial storm comprising the following problems:

  • Ridiculous competition in many positions. England alone could probably provide 4 test quality locks to the touring party, likewise Ireland 4 back rows.
  • The strongest Scottish attack in years being suited to the way Scotland play, not Warrenball. With a different coaching setup the approach might be different.
  • Opponents who had off days against Scotland then conspiring to play well again in the sort of circumstances that emulate the Lions test environment.
  • Scottish players playing poorly in the sort of circumstances that emulate the Lions test environment ie away games at Twickenham and Saracens, looking unable to cope against well-drilled skillful teams.
  • Injuries to players who were definitely being talked about previously.
  • Not having a Scottish voice in selection meetings – there is no word as to whether anyone from the Scotland camp will be invited to take part after the double snub to the tour from Townsend and O’Halloran. Surely Vern Cotter can pop in on his way to France?

That doesn’t mean I don’t think any Scots should or will travel. But despite a (mostly) happy Six Nations experience, pickings could be slim and I just hope there is more than one, or it won’t be a fun tour for Hoggy-No-Mates.

Definite: Stuart Hogg

There’s only one who is a nailed on cert. Stuart Hogg will tour. If Warren Gatland doesn’t pick him, we should just forget about it and form The New Barbarians™. He’s the most threatening fullback in attack across any of the home nations, and has worked hard on his high ball and defensive work. He’s toured before, he kicks goals a bit, his clearance kick range is an asset and there’s enough flexibility there at potentially centre or standoff to make him useful in a touring side, but he should really be pushing for a test spot. If you run back the highlights reel in your mind, winning Lions games have been created by inspirational moments in attack – which secures Hogg’s place. There are other competitors at fullback, but few are in the form he is.

Probable: Sean Maitland, Richie Gray, Hamish Watson, Tommy Seymour

These are the players who should feel hard done by if they don’t go, and who should play some part in the tour possibly as call-ups.

Sean Maitland is in fine form for Saracens and only a miracle game from Tim Visser kept him out of the latter Six Nations games. He along with Richie Gray share the benefit of having gone on tour before. Being a kiwi with Super Rugby experience probably won’t hurt either. Both he and Gray are in better form now than when they toured in 2013.

Richie is at the dynamic end of the locking spectrum along with Maro Itoje which is probably helpful for him as there are far more at the “workhorse” end. Gray’s recent injury keeping him out of Toulouse’s Quarter Final could hurt his chances though. But he was to that point in some of the best form of his life, matching his brother in the stats but reviving the ball-carrying, offloading game that made him stand out at the start of his career.

As we mentioned on recent podcasts, Hamish Watson playing for Edinburgh could well hurt his chances. Sam Warburton’s recent injury will raise doubts and the need for a backup 7. Watson has been in great form since last year and beyond and the fact he outshone Tipuric at Murrayfield could help, but Tipuric and Warburton are his key competitors if (Welsh coach) Gatland wants a proper 7. If he doesn’t then he’ll take Haskell.

Which just leaves Tommy Seymour, who was probably the form winger going in to the Six Nations but had a quiet tournament compared to his Glasgow form. I still think his aerial skills and link with Hogg give him sufficient class to get a spot on the plane but the waters have been muddied slightly by the resurgence of Maitland and players like Saracens team mate Chris Ashton.

What Might Have Been: Jonny Gray, Alex Dunbar, Fraser Brown

These are the guys who before the Six Nations would have been near certs or were at least being talked about, but the simple fact is that in the key games they’ve underperformed. They will be lucky if they get a call-up because of injury (or Dylan Hartley getting banned).

Jonny Gray was nailed on at the start of the Six Nations after some titanic performances for the Warriors, but he was outshone by his brother during the tournament and while he’s undeniably a hard worker, he needed to show more impact. It doesn’t help that he’s in the most competitive position that Gatland has to pick from; even the midweek team will have a monstrously good second row. He might be forgiven the Saracens game which he missed most of due to Owen Farrell’s elbow, and he might be given a place for the future like Richie was, but it’s unlikely. The learning curve in New Zealand will be horribly steep.

Alex Dunbar contributed massively to the turnover count in the Scottish defence and was solid as a rock – except against England. There’s no doubting he’s a class act but Gatland said before that the Twickenham performance was a crucial test and too many flunked it. If you think Twickenham is tough, try Eden Park. Gatland loves a boshing centre and if Farrell has to play at 10 there could be space for one which makes Dunbar a possibly injury call-up.

Fraser Brown falls into a similar category: he had a solid season, building nicely and some standout club performances (more than Dunbar) but a headless yellow card at Twickenham probably did for his chances. Cool heads are required but it could come down to a shootout between Brown and Hartley for a 3rd backup spot, and even then it will more likely be Rory Best, Jamie George and Ken Owens, who had a good tournament.

The injured fallen are also worth a mention here: Huw Jones, John Hardie, WP Nel and Al Dickinson would all have been on Gatland’s radar at the start of the year.

The Eagles Reunite: Greig Laidlaw, Ross Ford, John Barclay, Finn Russell

This batch have too much class in their positions to see them as anything but midweek selections. In a crowded position, the only way Scotland get a back row on the tour is surely as an out and out 7. Greig Laidlaw‘s leadership counts in his favour; John Barclay‘s leadership in the England game goes against him. Ross Ford continues to be the 100+ cap, Test Lion that barely gets a mention in dispatches in discussions like these.

And then we come to Finn Russell, who after out Dan Cartering Dan Carter was the talk of the town.

Finn turned in wildly schizophrenic performances against England and Saracens. He has an outside chance of a touring party place but he’s making far too many unforced errors from the boot and with ball in hand to be reliable against unforgiving New Zealand sides. Gatland will likely take 3 standoffs – Farrell, Sexton and AN Other (Faz by his own admission is a 10). Finn could have been AN Other ahead of both George Ford or Dan Biggar but at the moment he is less reliable than either even if he is more creative. There could be an interesting 3rd choice here but it is unlikely to be Finn.

The Bolter: Duncan Taylor

He’s back fit, and earned a Man of the Match award last weekend at Wembley. He looks lively at the moment and is defensively in tune with his Saracens teammates who will be well represented on the tour – which makes him un-Scottish enough for selection. He’s a a threat going forward, has great hands, is a powerful runner and can play centre, wing or fullback. Versatility can go against a guy like Chris Paterson over a career but SuperDunc is perfect for a one-off touring team where you need it, and perfect as a 23 for a flexible solution in physical test matches.

A swiss army knife of a player operating at the highest level; you can’t watch Saracens take apart Bath, Glasgow and Harlequins on three consecutive weekends and say they aren’t playing with test match intensity and precision. Scotland missed him badly in the Six Nations where the backs on the bench weren’t able to provide enough impact. If he doesn’t tour, it’s Toony’s gain. But if I were Gatland, I’d take a long hard look.

Who I’d take: Duncan Taylor, Hamish Watson, Tommy Seymour, Stuart Hogg, Richie Gray, Jonny Gray

Who I think will go: Hogg, Maitland, Seymour (plus perhaps Watson, Dunbar, a Gray or Brown as injury call-ups later on).

107 comments on “How Many Scots?

  1. Dehydrato on

    I cannot see anymore than Hogg touring and I very much doubt he’ll make the Test 15. I honestly believe that if it were a British/Irish and Italian Lions tour Gatland would pick more Italians than Scots.

    • FF on

      If only Hogg is selected I hope he tells Gatland where to go and sticks with his team mates in touring Australia. And I hope Scottish fans will support NZ. And then the Lions will be consigned to history.

      Scotland’s poor representation in the Lions was justifiable when we were absolute dirge but that isn’t the case now and Gatland either picks fairly on form or goes for favourites and reputations and kills the Lions as a concept.

      • Andrew McGavin on

        You’re usually more balanced than this, FF (I mean the supporting NZ part – especially if Hogg is in the squad), although I understand why you’re saying it. Unfortunately, although we were much better overall this year, we were still ‘dirge’ in the furnace of Twickenham. If Scotland had narrowly lost that game, we would probably have had 6+ players on the tour, and 8-10 if we’d won. The other team’s players have won Grand Slams and have proven combinations, so in tight calls they will get the nod. I don’t think that’s unfair when each case is taken individually, although as I say below, having only 1-2 Scottish players in the squad would ‘feel’ wrong, given the 6N table and strong wins over Ireland and Wales.

      • FF on

        I used to be a huge fan of the Lions and in general I like rugby’s attempts to maintain its links to its amateur past and ethos. But the Lions used to be selected by a committee made up of selectors from each of the participating unions. Look at the badge, it has the emblems of all four home unions and it is either a representative side of all four countries or not. I see no reason to support Gatland’s Lions, if they are stuffed with his favourites and including only a token Scot or two. The truth is that the pundits (and allegedly Gatland) are not applying the same selection criteria to all players. Rowntree picks his Harlequins mates, Gatland will likely pick players who are manifestly not the best players in their position because they played well for him FOUR years ago. Whoever is Scotland’s representative on the Lions board needs to be reminding Gatland that selection must be fair and must be seen to be fair, or the Lions will be mired in controversy. Clearly the squad will be dominated by England and Ireland. But Wales players should make way to accommodate Scottish players if necessary, even if they only appear in the midweek side. I’d like to see Hogg, Seymour, Watson, Taylor, Russell, J Gray.

        The fact is this is not a national team and Gatland has a responsibility to Lions history. Being ‘balanced’ in this case is just accepting any nonsense justification for picking any player over a Scottish player. The balance we should be demanding is outcome, where Scottish representation reflects recent performances. The 6N is supposed to have the greatest bearing on selection, we’re ranked 5th in the world and Wales have the worst attacking record of any home nation. If selection doesn’t reflect that it is frankly a stitch-up and I’d rather the Lions was finally put to an end.

      • Andrew McGavin on

        There’s nothing about your reasoning that I disagree with – it makes sense. I’m also frustrated. It’s just your conclusions re supporting NZ and ending the Lions that I find hard to swallow for two reasons:

        1) I can’t/won’t support the other side if at least one of our boys is in the team or squad. (Having said that, if no Scots were picked, I’d be tempted to join you in pulling on an AB shirt…)

        2) Frustrating as it might be now, Gatland won’t be (better not be) the Lions coach in 4 years time, and the Scottish experience could be far better in 4 years when our current crop should hopefully be reaching their absolute peak. I don’t think we should throw away many decades of history because we’re angry with the current coach’s approach.

  2. john martin on

    I fear 1 -(Stuart Hogg) will go & I fear he won’t start………. may ultimately be better for Scotland as the Lions boys are in for a flogging & likely won’t return to their clubs much before the Autumn internationals.

  3. Andrew McGavin on

    A balanced, well-reasoned article, Rory.

    There is no Scottish player except Hogg who absolutely demands inclusion, when you consider the proven quality of most of the other contenders. Because those teams have been dominant over the last few years, most of them have won Grand Slams (i.e. successful home and away) and are part of proven combinations. This means the cards are naturally stacked against Scottish individuals.

    Having said that, it sticks in the craw to read Lions squad after Lions squad with the only Scot being Hogg, or at most a couple of others, and about 10-15 representatives from the other three nations (particularly Wales, who we stuffed and who finished well below us in the 6N table). Despite all the valid reasons in my previous paragraph, that still seems unjust.

    I certainly don’t want Scots to be selected out of pity or to make up the numbers, but it does seem strange that a team which electrified parts of the 6N, and who became many supporters favourite second team, should be thought of so poorly in Lions representation by so many pundits. Ultimately, the Twickenham result and performance really stuffed us. I hope several Scots get selected but, as others have said, the silver lining of non-selection is a strong Scotland squad going on tour.

    One final point: Scotland’s tour international matches are to be played in the weeks before the Lions tests in the same geographical region…convenient for call-ups – coincidence?

    • TeamCam on

      To be fair, there are very few players other than Hogg who demand inclusion from any of the home nations. There are plenty from each of the home nations who one could make a very strong case for inclusion, but it seems like Scottish players need to be clearly better than their contemporaries to be in the discussion at all. Fraser Brown is a case in point – as a hooker, he’s of the same standard as Owens, Best et al. overall, but is consistently left out of the discussion on the basis of one game. Similarly, is Henshaw any better than Dunbar? Youngs any better than Price? Sinckler than Fagerson? Have either of Wales’ 7s been better than Watson in the last two seasons?

      The Scottish players are fighting their contemporaries and a latent assumption that they are worse than the other home nations’ equivalents. Without anyone arguing their cause in the selection discussions, the only player who will actually tour will be Hogg, and (as evidenced in Morrison’s Scotsman article) the media will be just fine with that. Townsend has got a hell of a job to turn this perception around, and based on Warriors’ performance this season, I’m not convinced he’ll be doing it any time soon. If Scotland don’t get three wins from three in their summer tour, they’ve regressed.

      • Andrew McGavin on

        Fair points. And I do think Gatland goes with what he knows, and is not flexible as a coach. He picks the players that would fit his pre-ordained game plan rather than picking the best players and adapting his game plan to fit their skills.

      • TeamCam on

        That’s fair. And, in his defence, it’s not like Wales’s players aren’t good, plus he knows them better. As you allude, the issue isn’t so much the squad selection as the head coach selection. Why they didn’t go with Cotter is beyond me. Well, assuming it wasn’t nepotism/old boys’ clubbery. I’ll be supporting the Barbarians this summer!

      • RuggersB on

        Fail to see how Scotland would have regressed by playing Australia on their home ground and losing. We lost both recent matches to them…albeit narrowly.

        We should win 2 out of the 3 …but 3 of 3 away from home would be significant progress Id say.

  4. Highland Bear on

    The Twickenham surrender punctured quite a few individual reputations which will take time to rebuild. Agree with Hogg being the one certainty.

    Of the probables, Richie unfortunate in the riches among home nation lock options. Seymour looked a shoo in coming into the 6 Nations but didn’t really show his prior form. Maitland always strikes me as a ‘safe’ selection, who wont let the team down but not strike fear into the opposition as an attacking threat, unlike North. For me Watson had a standout tournament and the most likely to tour.

    None of the three ‘might have beens’ showed the levels of performance necessary for selection. Gray Junior has plateaued and while very solid defensively doesn’t present an international ball-carrying threat. Dunbar’s reputation was shredded by Jonathan Joseph while Brown isn’t a solid scrummager and displayed disciplinary naivety. Long term injuries have done for the chances of Nel and Hardie.

    Russel might just get the call as the midweek fly half, particularly if Farrell is seen as the test inside centre. Of the rest name-checked, I have a suspicion Taylor will be called up on the basis of club form and being able to cover a number of positions.

    In answer to those who question the lack of Scottish representation, I would answer that Cotter (like a number of other succesful Scottish coaches – Telfer, McGeehan) has built a team that is greater than the sum of its parts. Being generous we have one potential world class player, who could use the tour to cement this status, supported by a mixture of good and adequate international players. This is a major improvement from his immediate predecessors when teams included players who were club-level quality at best.

    • TeamCam on

      The same is true of Ireland and England, though – they’re undoubtedly greater than the sum of their parts, and they’re hardly loaded with world-class players.

    • Rory Baldwin on

      Agree here Bear, Hogg and Watson are the only “form” choices so you could argue if he picks solely on form they should go and Seymour perhaps shouldn’t… but it’s tricky to look at in isolation from the other players competing. Regradless what our opinion of Gats is, it’s a thankless task with the talent available at the moment.

  5. Matto on

    I think it’s worth mentioning Visser too. As you say, Rory, he produced a miracle performance at exactly the right time. I would usually choose Seymour and Maitland ahead, but I’m not sure Gatland would. He likes big wingers with potent strike rates.
    I also think Hamish really was a stand out back row in the 6N and captured the eye of many.

  6. Busy Little Bee on

    If Gatland and his crew had their way -Hogg only. however i think the fact 3 made the last tour hints at an unspoken rule of at least 3 from each nations. I predict Maitland and Seymour. Even that is harsh on merit.

    It’s nonsense to say a few ruled themselves out on the back of 1 very tough match – Twickenham – a day when pretty much everything that could go wrong did go wrong. Maybe Dunbar was ruled out that day as he really did get shredded but otherwise 2 years of good performances and being competitive against everyone should not be wiped out by 1 match. That’s riduculous. How many of the Welsh are ruled out after their convincing loss as Murrayfield? Guaranteed none.

    If it’s Hogg only I’ll definitely cheer on New Zealand.

    • Andrew McGavin on

      We’re talking about perceptions here, though. Gatland made it clear before that match that it was crucial for deciding Lions places and he wanted to see how Scotland coped away from home. They had a nightmare, and that will be reflected in players picked. I’m not saying that’s right, but it’s how they’re being judged.

      • Busy Little Bee on

        Which is clearly nonsense. England away is the second toughest match in the sport. We got a yellow on 2 minutes. Within 20 minutes Ali Price was on the wing and not long after Duncan Weir – who has looked a club player this year sadly – was playing at full back. Among those lost was arguably our 2 best players in Hogg and Seymour. Surely there’s some level of understanding of mitigating circumstances.

        It’s very poor judgement to put so much weight on 1 result – no matter what the sport or even walk of life. After all Edinburgh beat Harlequins convincingly – twice I believe – which means Edinburgh and Duncan Hodge must be awesome.

      • Andrew McGavin on

        Well argued. I particularly feel it’s unfair to single out individuals who may actually have put in a good performance, given the circumstances (J Gray, perhaps). When our structure and cohesion went, it was almost impossible for any individual to look good. Even though he had a rough day with some basic kicking/decision-making errors, I thought Finn Russell never let his head drop in attack and set up our tries well (unlike against Saracens, when I thought he looked unusually despondent well before the end, clearly affected by his errors).

  7. CC on

    Its’s ridiculous how Scottish players have been completely discounted after Twickenham, I keep hearing Johnny Sexton is the best 10 in the British Isles yet throughout the 6N Ireland’s backline failed to sparkle. Taking away the Italian games Scotland scored the most tries by a fair distance, for instance most tries against Ireland = Scotland, joint-most tries against Wales = Scotland, most tries against England = Scotland, most tries against France = Scotland.
    Also only 2 of Scotland’s 14 tries were scored by forwards. So why is Hogg the only Scottish back really being talked about?. How is Russell only just being considered when he actually orchestrated the best back line in the whole of the six nations.

    Scots that should Tour (IMO):
    Brown, Nel, J Gray, Watson, Russell, Taylor, Seymour, Maitland, Hogg

    Scots that will probably tour:

    • John on

      Russell panics under pressure and lacks game management on biggest stage – v England and v Saracens. Would be a liability against New Zealand Super 18 sides never mind the All Blacks.

    • Merlot on

      Completely agree with the backline anomaly, but you are being naive to think that Brown, Nel and Gray should be included.
      Fraser Brown was just coming onto the radar (but still behind Best, Hartley and Jamie George) when he scuppered his chances at Twickenham. I’m a big fan of his but think this tour is a year too early for him. I would pick Best, Owens and George to tour.
      WP Nel is injured, and has not played all season, so Gatland would be ridiculed if he picked him.
      Both Gray brothers are in with a shout but think Richie has the better chance, partly because of dynamism and partly his Lions experience. However, with so many locks in contention I wouldn’t put a bet on either going.

  8. Glarugby on

    Will review the squad announcement with interest. I think this article sums up the position well. Some players in positions with unbelievable competition (second row, back row), some unlucky with injuries (esp nel) and some not stepping up in big matches.

    What i dont want to see is players deselected because of the england game. They were the only team to win away from home (excluding wins in italy) and on that logic no welsh or irish players should be selected as they lost at the cauldron that is murrayfield…..

    In all honesty if it is england and irish dominated fair enough, but the welsh have been poor for the past year, including club and international games, so hope players are selected on form and not reputation

    Roll on wednesday

  9. try hard on

    Good article and I agree with most of the predictions for the squad. Maximum of 5 Scottish players selected but most likely 2-3. Unfortunately Scotland still have the tag of losers and the loss at Twickenham erased the wins against Ireland and Wales from many peoples minds this year.

    It’s also a shame that several of our key players are injured as I’m fairly sure Nel, Jones, Dickinson and Hardie would at least be in the conversation.

    No problem with there being a primarily Irish/English feel as they have unquestionably been the form teams over the last 12 months. However, it does bother me that, despite coming 5th in the 6 nations and getting thrashed by New Zealand 3 times last year, Wales are tipped to have 9-10 players named in the squad on Wednesday. Of course they’ve got history with Gatland and he trusts them but surely form must be the primary consideration and players like Halfpenny and Davies look a shadow of the players they were 4 years ago.

    Personally I would take Hogg, Seymour, Russell, Watson and Jonny Gray with possibly Taylor due to the relative lack of options at centre. Russell’s form post-6 nations has been no worse than Ford or Biggar who have both had horror shows recently. Watson offers something different to the other options at openside and will thrive in a quality team. Jonny Gray is in a very competitive position but his form across the past two seasons has been too good to ignore.

    • The fat bloke on

      I completely agree with JC. Lets take a strong squad on tour with Townsend, beat Italy and Fiji and maybe Australia, get to know one another and develop combinations. And b0ll0cks to Gatland and his one dimensional style!

  10. Sean on

    Sadly (or not depending on your view of the Lions), Scotland players are either not in the best of form or lack international experience compared to their contemporaries in the other home nations.

    Front row – no Scots in contention due to injury. Although if Nel fit he may go as 3rd choice tight head. Any news on this?

    Second row- Itoje, Kruis, Launchbury, Lawes, Alun Wyn Jones. Both Grays and Swinson have had a good season and 4 years I think Both Jonny and Ritchie would go. Just unfortunate that there is some much depth.

    Back row – Watson likely to lose out on reputation/experience to Warburton and Tipuric. Think that is probably the hardest one to swallow as Wales 5th in 6N and Watson turned the game against them so following Gatland’s match ups rationale, Watson should go.

    Scrum half – Laidlaw injured, Price too raw.

    Fly half – Russell has gone off the boil at the wrong time. Shame.

    Centre – I think Taylor will go, maybe. I do wonder if Henshaw will play 13 outside of Farrell at 12. Joseph may then be other 13 (plus Daly) so Taylor may not be required.

    Wing – North and AN other will start test. Should be Seymour, probably will be Liam Williams, could by the rugby league from Sale as he is a physical player- he shouldn’t go in my view.

    Full back – if Hogg doesn’t start and Halfpenny does it will really dent Gatland’s credibility. I can see Williams at 15, Daly and North on the wings and Hogg in the mid week team. Hope I am wrong as I was at the game in Brisbane 4 years and it was a great day out and would like Scottish rugby fans to be engaged with it.

    • FF on

      Don’t see why people are slating Russell. He struggled to get a foothold in the Sarries match but George Ford collapsed just the week before. Biggar meanwhile had a total mare against Cardiff and his form is rotten as well as leading the most ineffectual attack in the 6N of the home unions. Clearly Sexton and Farrell are nailed on but there will be a third FH and it is Russell or Ford – Russell has had by far the more impressive displays and both have struggled behind beaten packs. I’d select Russell although Ford would be a reasonable pick. If Biggar tours it is a total sham.

      • Sean on

        To be clear I am not slating Russell. He should be picked by Glasgow and Scotland every week when fit and not his scheduled time off at Glasgow. Think for the lions he needed to do better against Sarries due to options available and who the coach is. He was also poor against Munster recently – maybe just needs a break.

        He may very well still go as third ten and I hope he does as I enjoy the Lions and want more Scottish representation.

  11. John Macmillan on

    If Townsend hadn’t turned down a roll with the lions I think at least 5 Scots would be in the squad

  12. Sean on

    Slightly off topic: Assuming Hogg, a winger and maybe Watson and Taylor go to NZ and say Frazer Brown and a Gray get called up, what will Scotland look like against Australia?

    Loosehead: Dickinson fit? If not we are still struggling. Gordy Reid for me if no Dicko.
    Hooker: Ford if no Brown.dont see much of Ed but Mcinally seems to have been quiet. Cupboard also bare here.
    Tighthead: Nel or Fagerson. If both injured…… Not sure.
    Second row: Swinson
    Second Row: a Gray or maybe Toolis deserves a go?
    Back row: Barclay, Wilson, Strauss if fit – does Bradbury go for more experience?
    9: Price and Laidlaw, if fit, to bring control after 55 to hopefully steer us home!
    10: eh Russell. No-one else which is a shame as think he needs a break
    11/14: One of Seymour/Maitland and Visser. Think Hoyland is in a difficult position playing for such a bad Edinburgh side
    12: Dunbar
    13: Nick Grigg – maybe too small but I think he deserves a go.
    15: Taylor if not in NZ. Is there anyone else? See above comments on Hoyland for Kinghorn.

    • JC on

      Sorry but Hoyland and Kinghorn dont do it for me. Not good enough for Edinburgh, let alone Scotland and playing Australia in their back yard. Rory Hughes is much better. This tour should not be a tour to experiment. We should be targeting 3 wins.

      • MK on

        Two players with lots of potential failed by a coaching team. Let Townsend have Kinghorn and Hoyland for 4 weeks and I reckon you’ll see two different players.

      • Sean on

        Agreed Scotland shouldn’t experiment. Just think some of the fringe younger guys should travel. Rory Hughes does well for Glasgow but isn’t international class. Lee Jones instead?

      • pragmatic optomist on

        Fed up hearing Edinburgh ‘team not up to it’ excuses for Hoyland and Kinghorn. Their performances have shifted from poor to embarassing from any kind of individual perspective, and have had nothing to do with the team or the coaching per se.
        It’s part of the problem at Edinburgh as I see it, with no one taking responsibility and people pointing fingers everywhere else.
        Is anything their own fault?

      • Sean on

        Interesting comments on Hoyland and Kinghorn. Frequently mentioned on here as options. I don’t see much of Edinburgh and they have been very poor when I have. Suppose my thinking is if rated by Edinburgh fans and trained with full Scotland squad in Autumn then maybe worth Townsend having a close up look on the tour. If genuinely not good enough then fine.

      • phil on

        the coaching has nothing to do with basic errors. i dont believe duncan hodge is a bad coach, he just isn’t a head coach. with kinghorn i can remember 2 bad moments: when he kneed the ball over the line v Glasgow in the opening minutes to gift a try, and when he slipped a (fairy easy) tackle v La Rochelle. Problem is those games were pretty big games (1872 and europe) and if you can’t do basic in those games, I fear for what would happen in the test match environment.

    • Doddies Trews on

      Kinghorn has made a few big gaffes recently, but Hoyland hasn’t as far as I can recall. He’s been quiet that is true, but he has been playing outside a 9,10,12,13 that cannot seem to pass or catch the ball, let alone perform moves to bring wingers into play.

      With regards to 3rd choice TH and backup 10: Welsh must surely get a recall, and I would likewise be tempted to bring Jackson back from the abyss for one last chance. Duncan Weir has been dreadful all season, and Hastings is still far too green. Slim pickings though.

  13. FF on

    Telegraph reporting Sinkler, Te’o and Hendersin selected as tour ‘bolters’. Henderson means almost certain that neither Gray will go.

  14. Busy Little Bee on

    So that’s Grays, Dunbar, Nel down as outsiders…3-4 others left out and it’s down to Hogg only.

    Henderson picked ahead of 1 of the 4 English and Grays? Even AWJ who will probably be undeservedly picked too. Can’t say I’ve noticed Henderson.

  15. JohnMc on

    A good and far from naive article. I’ve no time for the views of most of the media pundits, especially those whose selective amnesia rules out defeats of Ireland and Wales, a battling performance in Paris and a nilling of Italy. Which, in the case of the win against Wales, included an absolute second half battering of their back row by Watson, Barclay and co.
    I’m hoping for more in depth consideration by the actual Lions selectors. Hoping, but not expecting, I’m afraid. There are four or five Scots in there with a real chance of selection for the Lions tour party – players whose non-selection would make it more difficult to win the series against the ABs. It will be the Lions’ loss and Scotland’s gain for their four-way tournament if the selectors’ views accord with the views of the pundits.

  16. James on

    For my tuppence worth, I think J Gray needs a rest rather than a brutal lions tour to NZ. Although I expect if you asked him he’d say differently.

    Russell should be a head of Dan “flap your arms and whine to the ref” Biggar but won’t be. I think a lions tour would probably be the making of him and he’d come back a far better player (if he wasn’t sacrificed at the alter of Warrenball or brutalised by the ABs).

    Watson should go as he looked good playing for Scotland and manages to shine in the horrific car crash that is Edinburgh rugby. But I expect he’ll fail the Welsh test and “Warbs” and “Tips” will both go. To be fair, they both looked good at times in the 6N. The difference is Watson looked good all the time.

    Scotland seemed to have the best back three so I’d expect good representation in that area. But again, the players fail the Welsh test and Halfpenny, North and Williams will get the places instead.

    So it looks like Hogg will be it. Which is a shame as the as I think with a few players on the plane and realising that the other home nations players are no better than our players would do wonders for our psyche in the coming years. But it does give Townsend a chance to take a decent squad on tour which I will be watching avidly if I can find the games in amongst the lions noise and piffle in the media.

  17. RuggersB on

    I’d say Hogg, Maitland and Taylor will get picked. Hogg maybe starting….maybe not.

    The England match was the ideal game to show prep for a match against the All Blacks… instead the forward pack & midfield were steamrolled. Then to prove the point ….Glasgow got same outcome v Saracens.

  18. Ade on

    Nice article Rory, balanced, and well thought out. Sadly, we aren’t dealing with balance when it comes to Gatland. Prior to Twickenham the players mentioned were in with a shout. However, even with a hugely disrupted back line, Gatland will use this as his reason for non-selection of Scots.

    Hogg is the only one who will tour for me, and even then he isn’t nailed on as a tourist, never mind a starter, as Gatland has Halfpenny and Williams as his inside men.

    We shall see.

    As for the Scotland tour, I would say that we should be beating Italy at the moment no matter where in the world we play them. Fiji would be a win elsewhere, but the team will have to work very hard to win in Suva. As for Australia – much will depend on injuries. I think the Aussies may shade it with home advantage.

  19. Niddrie Exiler on

    FF, I was speaking to a long time Saracens supporter who has a very high regard for Finn Russell and thinks he should go, and reckons him much more than Taylor and Maitland. I agree with you why all the negativity over him?. Over the course of the season Finn has been THE stand out attacking and innovative FH in the northern hemisphere. We are incredibly lucky to have him. He has made some recent mistakes, unfortunately in big, must win matches, mainly in his kicking out of hand to touch – but I would not swap him for any other FH out there as mark my words next season will see him move into true world class.

    • Stephen Webber on

      Finn has moments of brilliance and moments of sheer madness. He’s still trying to be too clever with blind passes that the receiving player either struggles to make or ends up being flattened by the defending team. He needs to settle down a bit and do the simple stuff well, rather than the clever stuff badly.

    • The Chiel on

      Anybody who scores a try and has a good game is touted. Ashton last couple of weeks, Hartley this week.
      The ridiculous Jones in the ST yesterday said he was tempted to take Jim Hamilton !

      We’ll have 3. Taylor may make it.

      • 1.8T on

        Exactly, the English propaganda machine has been in full flow the last couple of weeks.

        p.s. big Jim has been playing well though!

  20. Rory Baldwin on

    Taylor may have gone off injured (he played 45mins – 10 for a YC) on Sunday for Sarries. Anyone see it?

    I should also say that I’m warming up on the possibility of Russell touring. One thing he hasn’t really done even on his off days is miss tackles and that could count in his favour.

    • TeamCam on

      He came off second best in an aerial challenge and looked worse for wear when they took him off. Not heard anything since, but hopefully it’s nowt serious. He could do with a bit of good luck!

    • try hard on

      Taylor looked sharp when he was on for Sarries though, mainly in defence since they didn’t really click in attack until the last 20 mins. A couple of key defensive interventions and YC card was necessary to prevent a try.

      Injury didn’t look serious – he hobbled about for a bit before admitting defeat.

  21. Mcmjco on

    If I was picking lions using last tour of 37 players I would have:
    1. McGrath, Evans, M. Vunipola
    2. Best, Owens, F. Brown
    3. Furlong, Cole, Fagerson
    4. R. Gray, Launchbury, Itoje
    5. Wyn Jones, J. Gray
    6. O’Mahony, Stander
    7. Warburton, Barclay, Tipuric
    8. Felatau, B. Vunipola
    9. Webb, Murray, B. Youngs
    10. Sexton, Russell
    11. North, Maitland
    12. Farrell, Henshaw
    13. Ringrose, J. Davies
    14. A. Watson, Seymour, Daly
    15. Hogg, Williams

    I think it’s a good blend of players and gives options in changing the games. It won’t happen though I suspect there will be 3 or 4 Scots if we are lucky, which is a shame as I reckon players like Fagerson even if he only plays midweek will learn a lot from the experience.

    • JC on

      I think gatland will stick to the experience, over gambles. This is a tour to new zealand, who will embarrass you if you dont get it right. You need 37 players competing for the 23 test spots so ‘taking players for midweek’ won’t happen. My realistic squad with potential call ups in brackets:

      1. McGrath, Marler, M. Vunipola (Evans)
      2. Best, Owens, George (Baldwin)
      3. Furlong, Cole, Sinckler (Lee)
      4/5. Lawes, Launchbury, Itoje, Wyn Jones, J. Gray (enough cover)
      6/7. Robshaw, Stander, Warburton, Haskell, Tipuric (Watson)
      8. Felatau, B. Vunipola (moriarty)
      9. Webb, Murray, Youngs (Care)
      10. Sexton, Biggar (Ford)
      11/14. North, Maitland, Watson, Seymour, Daly (Halfpenny)
      12/13. Farrell, Henshaw, Joseph, Davies (Roberts)
      15. Hogg, Williams (Halfpenny)

      This is me in Gatlands head, and the call ups factor in the location and proximity of other touring countries

      • Busy Little Bee on

        We already know that Henderson, T’eo and Sinckler are in the squad. The betting patterns also hint that Jamie Roberts will be in the squad.

        I don’t think Haskell will be in, Gatland has his faults but he’s good at weeding out prats.

      • JC on

        i’m not convinced that those three in are in the squad i think it could just be someone starting rumours…

      • FF on

        I think the truth is the squad won’t be finalised until last selection meeting tomorrow night. So fringe choices still up for grabs and well founded rumours from inside sources may still be wrong. BBC reporting that JJ and Launcberry likely left out – which I find absolutely staggering to be honest.

      • TheSmidge on

        The BBC report also has George Ford missing out, which may mean Finn is in, but sadly most likely that Dan Bigger is inexplicably on the plane. Not even the best Welsh stand-off, let alone better than Russell and Ford.

      • JC on

        i would actually be very surprised if joseph and launchbury arent in the squad. firstly because they are top players and have had a killer winning mindset in the last 18 months but more importantly, those two were involved in 2012 when england beat NZ. Some of these squad members have never played the ABs never mind beat them…

      • Andrew McGavin on

        Smidge, I agree that Biggar will probably be picked if Ford doesn’t go because: a) he’s Welsh/Gatland’s tendency to go safe with what he knows; b) he’s played well in big pressure games (in previous seasons); c) he’s strong under the high ball.

        I’m intrigued that a lot of pundits are saying that Biggar will be a good tourist because he’s got an edge to him. I’m amazed that more aren’t saying he’ll be a horrible tourist because of his constant petulance and whinging. If he throws a fit because a minor call isn’t quite to his liking, how will he respond to being left out of teams? I don’t know him except for what I see on the pitch, so this may be unfair, but he seems like exactly the kind of character I wouldn’t want to tour with.

      • FF on

        More significant issue should be that Biggar just isn’t proficient at getting his back line moving. He just isn’t a good enough FH for the modern game which is why Welsh fans have been crying for Davies to be selected.

  22. Frazer on

    For the last Lions tour I genuinely didn’t think that any Scots would tour – 3 did, and I’ve seen it said that this was a pre-ordained amount.

    The discussions have been endless over the last few months, and as Rory outlines in his article it’s going to be a perfect storm that limits the amount of Scottish players touring this time round as well. However, I think there will be another pre-ordained amount of Scottish players, if only to pay the “Lions ethos” lip service.

    Those of us who post in this blog are always going to be inclined to favour our players, and I’ve tried to be as impartial as possible when forming my statement that I think 4 Scots will be named in the initial touring party – Hogg, Maitland, Watson, and R. Gray. Of these Hogg really ought to be the starting test 15, and Maitland may also start the tests, Watson and Gray will most likely be in the midweek team.

    It will be a very physical tour and dependent on injuries I expect that Seymour, Dunbar, J. Gray, and Brown have a decent chance of being called up, maybe even Nel if he regains fitness in time.

  23. Not rocket science on

    I don’t see how Brown is being suggested, does everyone forget the errors at crucial lineouts, the yellow and the scrummaging problems. He’s been awesome in the loose at times for Glasgow but needs to nail down a starting berth alongside Nel and Dickinson in Oz. And is nowhere near as physical as Hartley.

    Would love to see Russell go. No one near him in his position for Scotland and Glasgow. No other player like him. Suspect Ford will be picked instead.

    Then there’s probably one from Seymour, Maitland and Taylor. F

    I’m going to say: Hogg, Taylor, Russell. With only Hogg starting a test.

    A disappointing return with none from the scrum due in a large part to injury and overwork.

    But because of the flair of the Scotland players likely to travel enough to keep my interest (even if it’s only Hogg).

    I think both Grays probably miss out. Nel is a bolter if any fitness. Fingers crossed for Watson.

    • Andrew on

      I agree with your comments about Brown, seems a stretch given the errors we have all seen. I also think Seymour had a quiet tournament in a back division that was on fire which means he may miss out. As it stands before any games on tour Hogg has to start and like you that will be enough to keep me interested. I think it could be the absolute making of Hogg to be up against the very best with the best of the Britain around him.

  24. Andy Slow on

    My tuppenceworth….

    Scots who will go – Hogg, Seymour (great combination), Taylor

    Scots who should go – R Gray, Watson, Russell, Hogg, Seymour, Taylor (would also have said Dunbar and Huw Jones due to a serious lack of talent in the lions centre pool, but Dunbar looks suspect in defence when faced with lots of dummy runners and Jones is injured)

    Gray will miss out for AWJ (nonsense decision. AWJ past it)
    Watson will miss out for Tipuric (Absolute travesty. Watson is turning into a colossus of a player and could be one of the best in the world. Would love to see him up against the ABs)
    Russell will miss out to Biggar of all people!!! I know he’s been flaky recently but the Lions need a flair player, do or die type attitude on the pitch. No on else comes close to Russell on form. Form is the problem though…

    Also I’ve read a rumour Jamie Roberts is touring! JAMIE ROBERTS!!!!! Not sure I need to qualify my disgust about this selection.

    Gatland and Howley will go for brawn over skill in every department and we will get royally sh*gged by the ABs.

  25. Duncan on

    One of the main things that irks me about the whole thing is that Welsh, English and Irish players can have one good season (or sometimes game!) and they automatically should be a shoe in for selection. Granted on form Ken Owens should probably be one of the hookers but can anyone really tell me what the big difference between him and Fraser Brown is? Maybe he has had a better season but he doesn’t really stand out for me! Yet apparently he is a shoe in!

  26. 1.8T on

    I’ll pretty much echo what everyone else thinks. I think Hogg, Maitland, Taylor and ANOther will go and have a chance of being in the test squad. If Hogg doesn’t start at 15 then the whole thing is a sham. Taylor and Maitland because of their Saracens connections and because Gatland seems to like Maitland. Watson, Russell, and Seymour may go for midweek duties. He really should take Russell on merit over Ford and Biggar. Watson I don’t think will suit the Warrenball style.
    Although Richie Gray has been good I think there are simply too many as good / better options across the other nations. Seymour has been too quiet recently, if he had an electric 6N then he was in with a shout of starting IMO.

    As I said before the attitude of the selectors is that they need a very good reason to pick Scots and a very good reason to not pick guys from the other nations. The simple fact of the matter is no Scots, other than Hogg are head and shoulders better than their rivals, as good yes but as good won’t cut it unfortunately.

    Wales had a few standout performers in a pish team, we had a good team with few stand out performers.

  27. Martin on

    As we arrive a judgment day I think I will regurgitate a previous post on the subject – combinations are key !! There is such little time to get these players aligned to the mammoth task ahead that there just simply isn’t the time for a disparate Harlem Globetrotters approach to picking the ‘best’ 37/38 players. Its about picking a set of combinations that work.

    To that end with Hogg being the only nailed on Scot I actually think his work with Seymour will see him also travel. Other than that no-one else will go with the original party. And whether we like it or not (i am conscious of the current ‘political’ climate) if we choose to be part of the British and Irish Lions, then we no longer should look at which ‘country’ the players are from so long as they are eligible for Scotland, England, Ireland or Wales.
    If we cant get over this (or dont want too) then perhaps we should withdraw our players – but I cant help think this is counter productive and will have funding / representation issues for us going forward.

    The plus side from this is that Toony will get to pick an almost full touring squad for Scotland and these players will not be burdened with the likely fallout from a series failure. Add in the ready made siege mentality and hopefully you have a set of players determined to go over to APAC ready to run through walls.

    Likelihood is as well that a number of injuries will see a fair few late coming Scots as well, but as per above lets actually hope not too many !

  28. Dave on

    According to Gatland, Scotland’s inability to win on the road means that only 1-2 deserve to go on the Lions tour. So I thought it might be interesting to look at Wales’s away record since the 2013 Lions tour.
    Including RWC, but not including warm up games, it reads 5 wins, 1 draw and 13 losses. The wins were against Italy (x2), us, France and the England RWC game. So they’ve won what you’d call 1 big away game and that was at a far more neutral than usual Twickenham, 2 if you include beating a French team in decline with an unhinged coach!
    Admittedly, it’s better than us but still rubbish. You’d hardly call them serial winner of big games on the road!

    • Martin on

      When did Gatland say that? I thought only 2 would go, but never realised he stated it, and cited Scotlands away performances.

  29. Dave on

    He said before the England game that Scotland need to win big games on the road for a number Scottish players to be considered for the Lions.

  30. Frazer on

    Rory, I assume there will be an article to pick over the bones of tomorrow’s squad announcement. It’s going to be heated, particularly as I think there will be a number of players undeserving of a place on the team – and that’s my opinion even taking off my Scotland head!

    FWIW my 2 punts on the squad will be that there will be 3 or 4 Scots, and a number of out-of-form (or ridiculously old, medically qualified) Welsh players.

    • Rory Baldwin on

      There will be a Lions podcast special up on Thursday-ish which will be the best forum for that discussion, but there will be a post up after the announcement anyway.

  31. Merlot on

    For all the vitriol spouted about there being likely to be fewer Scots, we have to look at the competition.
    Props – our two first choice props (Al and WP) would have been almost penned in, if it wasn’t for injuries. The only other I would consider would be Zander Fagerson, and I doubt even McGeechan would take a flier on him.
    Hookers – Ford is past his best, albeit still good enough to hold his own in the 6N. Brown blew it at Twickenham when he had a chance to stake a claim, so he’s even behind 4th choice Hartley.
    Locks – complete gamble but I would take Richie over Jonny after this 6N, especially given his Lions experience. I would also take him over AWJ, but Itoje, Lawes, Launchbury, Henderson and a fit again Kruis are all just as good. In this respect Richie should get the nod because he is just as good too!!
    Back-row: Nobody is going to convince me that any of our backrow are better than the competition, other than Hamish Watson. He outperformed both Warburton and Tipuric and if he isn’t on the plane that shows Gatlands bias towards what he knows.
    Scrum-half: a season too early for Price and a month too late for Laidlaw. Both bring something different to Youngs (3rd behind Webb and Murray) but you cannot really argue with conviction that either should be picked over the English 1st choice.
    Fly-Half: no contest. Finn should go. Best attacking stand-off in the NH.
    Centres: We had 6 in contention for 6N places in Scotland, and Bennett, Scott, Jones and Horne have fallen to the wayside for one reason or another. That leaves Dunbar and Taylor and Alex doesn’t bring enough to the party, despite his turnover stats. I can see Taylor going, but only because he’s fresh and versatile.
    Wings: Maitland and Seymour should both go, but it’s 50/50 for either with Antony Watson, Elliott Daly, Simon Zebo, George North, Liam Williams.
    Full-back: nuff said.
    So Richie Gray, Watson, Russell, Taylor, Maitland, Seymour, Hogg are in the frame and I’d be disappointed with less than 4 representatives.

  32. K-Dawg on

    Brown unlikely to tour because of a yellow card tip-tackle even though Elliot Daly was red carded in the Autumn, yet most expert picks have Daly in the squad. Short memories.

  33. Cameron on

    Does anybody else struggle to care about the Lions? I don’t really care who plays for them, I’m not sure what the point of them is and I’m damned sure that with Gatland in charge, I wont enjoy the way they play.

    Maybe it’s due to being 31 and having never really had much in the way of a decent Scottish contingent in the team or perhaps it’s a symptom of the professional game that I find it strange that we are trying to cobble together a team out of the home union to tour to the Southern Hemisphere when each union does that every summer anyway.

    Almost the only thing I enjoy about it is that it increases interest in rugby and I’ll happily chat about that all day.

  34. Niddrie Exiler on

    The Lions have a great history and until recently they had a fair representation of the home unions in their squads however a combination of successive crap Scottish teams and Gatland and his coaching team skewing selection towards Welsh and English players has blown the original concept out the water. So at this juncture I personally don’t give a monkeys and want NZ to hammer them

  35. Johnny John john on

    Scotland’s problem is that they play the same way the All Blacks do, they’re just not as good at it.

    They have a mobile pack, fast backs and excellent conditioning playing a game based on movement.

    It’s effective and suits the players they have in the 6N, but Gatland isn’t going to take on the ABs at their own game, especially not with players who are not quite as good at it. He’ll use the big English and Irish forwards to try to strangle them.

    Personally I think Dunc Taylor is a good call, but I also think Strauss has a good chance.

    These are about the only players we have who fit in to the way I think Warren Gatland will choose to play this.

    I also think Finn Russell might go as 3rd fly half. He’s going to take 3 and George Ford is out. Biggar is too similar to Farrell.

    I think there’s a chance Laidlaw might go as a kind of midweek captain too.

    By this time tomorrow we will know. I don’t think there will be too many Scots and I think the ABs will comfortably deal with the power game Gatland will deploy.


  36. SlowWalk90 on

    I fail to understand why Kruis is nailed on to board the plane. He’s been injured all season in a position that has more strength in depth than any other. Even when fit, it’s hard to call whether he’s really better than the other options.

    Compared to Nel, who barely anyone is selecting because he’s been out for a similar length, this just seems imbalanced.

  37. JohnMc on

    The one omission guaranteed to turn me into Harry Enfield’s Angry Frank in the pub character would be of Hamish Watson. Despite being part of the big collective Twickenham blip, he was consistently the best Lions qualified open side throughout the 6N. Better than both Warburton and Tipuric, and different enough from what Ireland and England offered at 7 to present the kind of ‘Pooper’ challenge that can unsettle the All Blacks.
    Sadly, I’ve already started to practise my Angry Frank accent…….

  38. FF on

    Sky News reporting Jamie Roberts will be selected, which is a bit odd as he can’t even get in the Welsh team any longer. Either this is a cunning strategy to raise the outrage bar ahead of the announcement or Gatland really is taking the piss.

    • TheSmidge on

      If Roberts is selected over, say, Duncan Taylor, then I’m loading up on the Steinlager, buying some sheep for the back garden and pretending to ignore anyone who asks if my accent is Aussie.

  39. Niddrie Exiler on

    Agree with that, if Roberts is selected then this whole Lions thing becomes a big fat joke.

  40. Neil on

    If it only it was joe smit coaching i would be alot more confident of a good tour , or vern, jones , townsend, hell put hodge ahead of gatland

  41. Niddrie Exiler on

    Latest is The Telegraph have 2, yes 2, Scots in a 38 man squad. More Irish late comers and England 2nd stringers getting stuffed into the party.

    • Andrew McGavin on

      Plenty of pundits only have ONE Scot (e.g. Dallaglio, Woodward, Andy Goode), although Woodward also gives his first reserve for each position/section of the team and five of his eleven reserves are Scots (Seymour; Dunbar; Laidlaw; Barclay; Fagerson).

      As always, a very decent article by Tom English on the BBC highlighting Scotland’s season although he pulls his punches somewhat at the end, with only faint criticism of Gatland at the end. He concludes that choosing the Lions is a brutal business, but doesn’t say it’s actually an uneven playing field, which is the implication from the article. It’s good to be reminded, Edinburgh aside, just how heroic and groundbreaking this season has been for Scottish rugby. We ran out of players and fizz by the end, and that ending is all the pundits and probably Gatland seem to be focusing on.

  42. Martin on

    I wonder why there are so many ‘leaks’ coming out – either they are all fake in whihc case awful click-bait reporting from serious broadcasters / newspapers or there are leaks already from within the camp done to undermine the coach and cause a stir – noticeably the way the Beeb reported the leaks was to focus on Launchbury and Joseph as potentially missing out – which when considered against a backdrop of only 1 or 2 scots going on tour is really nothing….. Conclusion either its a meaningless rouse ahead of tomorrow or some influential ‘English’ backroom staff have leaked the non-english inclusions to cause a media stir.

    If that is the case its a damning indictment on the solidity of that coaching unit and one that already would be destined for complete failure. If Joseph and Launchbury arent in we will now the leak was genuine in which case i’d sooner have no Scots go on tour and be part of the impending disaster

    • 1.8T on

      If Launchbury and Joseph aren’t picked I would be almost as annoyed at Gatland as for his lack of Scots, especially given the likely substitutes are mediocre Welshmen like Roberts. If I took my Scotland hat off Launchbury was my player of the 6N.

  43. Andrew McGavin on

    Yes, Martin, and it’s unbelievably unfair on players who are anxiously waiting to hear who’s in and who’s out. Seriously unimpressive either that these leaks are coming out, or that journalists are being so thoughtless/unprofessional.

  44. Dave on

    Latest leak is that it’s one Scot in a bigger than expected party of 40. So bloody offensive. It feels like he’s now just making selections to spite us after the coach snub.

    • Glarugby on

      If it is one scot i will be seriously unhappy and would wonder if they will consider telling gatland and the english, irish and welsh lions (as it will be) where to shove their place. Really hope all the leaks arent accurate and tomorrow i am a happier supporter.

    • Martin on

      It is quite frenzied just now with the chopping and changing of the supposed leaked squads. I think it’s best to keep powder dry, wait and see then take stock. I still think it will be an Omnishambles clusterf… of a tour and maybe having 1 or 2 reps maximum is no bad thing.

    • FF on

      If that is the case it really isn’t justifiable. I hope whoever is the SRUs representative on the Lions committee has been applying some back room pressure. It would be a huge betrayal of the Lions heritage.

  45. Andy on

    If we feel like we’ve been hard done by when the selection comes about then the Lions squad photo should be placed beside the photo of Danny Care’s gurning face diving over for a try on Every locker, tackle bag, scrum machine, training program, diet plan, every dressing room in Scottish Rugby from 11 years old to the National team.

    While Gatland undoubtedly has quite an unreasonable attitude towards selecting Scottish players, over a period of 20 years or so since the advent of the professional game we have generaly lagged behind the rest when it came to the adoption of professionalism in the last 90’s and more recently in the past couple of years when the level of physicality has stepped up again.

    We’ve started to get things right in the past couple of years but the England game (and Saracens to an extent) was an easy get out for Gatland as it demonstrated that Scottish Rugby was still vulnerable to extreme Globogym and a bit behind the curve physically.

    Not all doom and gloom because if Cockerill can get Edinburgh’s pack at their marauding best and Rennie can get Glasgow’s backs flying again then GT should have the best of botrh worlds to work with.

    FWIW given that the teams that play the Lions will all generally be out to hurt them then I think we would have more of as chance of providing test players as replacements after the first couple of games seeing as we’re in that neck of the woods anyway.

    • FF on

      I don’t think we should release any players as replacements to be honest. If Gatland snubs our players we should concentrate in having a good tour ourselves and not allow disruptions losing players would bring.

      • Andy on

        I don’t think the players would be too enamoured if we blocked them from a possibly once in a lifetime Lions tour…

      • Martin on

        Only once in a lifetime if Gatland gets 2021. I suspect he will be back in NZ living off his stolen wage by then !!!

  46. David Finlay on

    If Italy were eligible for the lions they would have had more players selected. #DanBiggeristurbow***

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