Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Nel and Taylor back for Scotland

WP Nel - pic © Al Ross
WP Nel - pic © Al Ross

Gregor Townsend has named a strong team for the most part to face Italy in Singapore.

With Stuart Hogg and Tommy Seymour away with the Lions, the most obvious problems were who to pick at fullback and he’s gone for Duncan Taylor, while the backline has a solid look to it with Dunbar and Scott in the centre. With no Jones or Bennett on tour, pressure could be on restored wing Damien Hoyland to create things if Finn Russell has an off day.

Russell and Price are as expected and in the pack the surprise omission is perhaps the disappearance of the name Gray from the second row. Jonny is maybe being rested for Australia (Richie is injured) so Ben Toolis earns his first Scotland start, on merit it has to be said.

John Hardie returns to the side, and Ryan Wilson’s versatility on the bench means no space for Hamish Watson, arguably the form Scottish row at the end of the season- apart from John Barclay who captains once again.

Josh Strauss is a welcome return to add some ballast at number 8 and speaking of welcome returns there is a new look, all-Edinburgh front row in the form of Dell, Ford and WP Nel.

It means young stalwart Zander Fagerson sits the bench, which is stacked with forwards including another youngster Magnus Bradbury, and just 2 backs in the form of Henry Pyrgos and Pete Horne.

With this game the only one free to air and at a sensible hour, tune in on Saturday to see how they get on before you have to start resetting your body clock for the other two.

Scotland team to play Italy at the Singapore National Stadium, Saturday 10 June (kick-off 1pm BST) – live on BBC Scotland

15. Duncan Taylor (Saracens), 14. Damien Hoyland (Edinburgh Rugby), 13. Matt Scott (Gloucester), 12. Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors), 11. Tim Visser (Harlequins), 10. Finn Russell (Glasgow Warriors), 9. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors); 1. Allan Dell (Edinburgh Rugby), 2. Ross Ford (Edinburgh Rugby), 3. WP Nel (Edinburgh Rugby), 4. Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors), 5. Ben Toolis (Edinburgh Rugby), 6. John Barclay CAPTAIN (Scarlets), 7. John Hardie (Edinburgh Rugby), 8. Josh Strauss (Sale Sharks)

16. Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors), 17. Gordon Reid (London Irish), 18. Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors), 19. Rob Harley (Glasgow Warriors), 20. Magnus Bradbury (Edinburgh Rugby), 21. Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors), 22. Henry Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors), 23. Pete Horne (Glasgow Warriors)

20 Responses

  1. Very strong and balanced looking team… incredible to think we can make 9 changes to the team which played Italy in the 6N and still not have a weakness in the XV…

    Here’s to an u20s and senior team double in the next 72 hours!

    1. Only 3 comments :

      Wullie he make it through the game or Wullie no. I hope so.

      It would be a disaster if Russell was called up to the Welsh reserves. We want to beat Australia, not just have a plucky performance

      Taylor at Fullback – At last an opportunity to remove the single man vulnerability at Fullback. I will be interested to see what we think of a fullback that can defend, join the centres and give the likes of Visser space to be the last receiver.

  2. a little light in the back 5 of scrum for my liking but as reports have suggested ,. play with speed then this is the obvious choice. liking seeing bradbury named as he’s got gas on the ball

  3. Really pleased with this selection. Even in the absence of at least 7 starters this is a strong 22. Only concern is a lack of back 3 cover in the replacements.

  4. Is Hamish Watson injured? He was suggested as a potential Lion and now he is not even in the match day squad. Saving him for Australia maybe?

      1. Hamish Watson has a minor groin injury according to the BBC. I’d expect him to be in the match day squad for Australia though.

  5. I really like the fact that we are building some depth in the squad and can afford a bit of rotation in the team to get some younger guys in. I think if we get through this game with no injuries we can go in feeling confident against OZ.

    On a side note, Lions beaten by the blues and Biggar off early with a head knock. If Finn is called up who’s our 10? Horne is my choice.

    1. If Finn is called up lets hope he skips the circus lions and stays on tour!

      1. The more I watch the lions, the more glad I am that very few of our players were selected.

        George Ford is probably above Finn in the pecking order anyway

    2. At this point, I don’t think Russell would benefit from being 3rd choice on a tour that is going from bad to worse.

      Much better that he stays with us, plays more against test level opposition and potentially helps us win (again) against Oz in Oz. This time, against a full strength team. Which will be nice!

      1. I wasn’t trying to hijack the thread for a lions discussion. The merits of touring have been done to death with both pros and cons discussed.

        I do hope to see Finn line up against Oz as it’s our best chance of winning.

  6. As good a side as we can manage to put out, all things considered.

    Interesting to see what Fraser Brown will bring as an impact sub.

    Interesting also to see what happens with Hamish Watson. BVC always picked Hardie as first choice when he was fit – and never picked Watson ahead of him – as he saw him as the better all round player. (Makes the Lions debate interesting too). I wonder whether Gregor will follow suit.

    It will be fascinating to see over time whether the high tempo/demanding skillset approach demanded by Gregor can prevail over power at international level. We have to hope so.

    Jonny Gray must be running on empty. It’s the wrong decision to have taken him on tour – if his energy is needing to be conserved rather than playing him then he shouldn’t be there in the first place.

    1. Totally agree on J Gray. He’s played so much rugby in last 24 months for a young guy. We need to think long term. Dunbar in same boat for me. Last season was first full season of rugby he’d played for quite a few years with his various injuries… was right back to his best (if now lacking a yard of pace in attack), but by end of season looked knackered.

    2. You’ve got to think GT’s approach is the right one for Scotland.

      We don’t produce the same monster ball carriers as other nations – certainly with less access to the Pacific Islands, NZ and Australia than the other top tier nations.

      While slightly conflicting with the point above, NZ are nonetheless successful with a pacy offloading game.

      So let’s do the same – hold our own in the scrum, but play to our strengths. NZ of the northern hemisphere, plz. Really excited about this first Italy game (no injuries I hope) and Australia. The team has a nice balance to it, with a few big players to come back for the next one.

      Also, looking forward to seeing how Hogg goes against the Crusaders, as the backs look like a possible test combination, against an almost All Blacks.

      1. It absolutely looks like the preferred back division for the Tests…so here’s hoping Hogg shows his undoubted range of talents. He has no excuses. Delivering under pressure is what it is all about.

      2. Having managed to successfully negotiate the minefield of Geo-blocks and watch the 3 U20 games so far in Georgia, there are a few guys who look like they would fit perfectly into what Toonie seems to be looking to do – particularly impressed with the winger Graham, not your standard bosher – great feet, loads of imagination – slippery as a baggie up a burn as they say.

        I see Carmichael has joined up with the squad as well – he must be going well down under…some fantastic young second row talent coming through, and you’ve got to think the Grays have a good 6 or 7 seasons in them yet.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion