Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scrummo’s Scotland Squad Analysis

Francesco Minto is watched by Henry Pyrgos during Scotland vs Italy in the RBS Six Nations Championship at BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. Pic: © Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography

Loosehead – Reid, Bhatti
Tighthead – Welsh, Berghan, Rae, McCallum

No real surprises here other than the non-selection of Sutherland which is worrying after seeing him leave the field early against Stade Francais, but perhaps he just needs a bit longer on his return from injury. Welsh and Reid will almost certainly join McInally in the front row giving us a front row that is experienced, strong in the scrum and a pretty decent size as well with both props being around the 120kg mark. As long as we stick enough bulk behind them I think it’s time for the worries over our scrum to stop, please.

Rae is a decent player but has had so little game time lately that the intensity of test level may be too much so I’d expect to see Bhatti and McCallum on the bench until Berghan returns from his ban. Bhatti was solid in the scrum against Leinster’s Furlong last weekend and will make a big impact in the loose, so no concerns there. McCallum is rising to every challenge set for him without taking a backward step. Slight concern that with only two looseheads in the squad McCallum may also be covering that side if we have an injury.

McInally, Turner, Lawson

McInally is undoubtedly first choice now and looks the complete modern hooker which is fortunate given Fraser Brown’s head issues. We will miss Brown from the bench but this is a good chance for Turner to step up. There are some question marks over Turner in the set piece and when it comes to his discipline but he’s dynamic in the loose and thumping in defence so if he can answer the question marks then he will be a great impact option on the bench. Listed by Glasgow at 5”11’ and 105kg (McInally is 108kg) he’s not as small as often touted either so no excuses if the scrum goes backwards, this is his chance.

Lawson is probably the biggest surprise selection in the entire squad for me. He’s experienced no doubt with 46 caps, though I’m not sure he was ever that convincing when coming off the bench to replace big Ross Ford. He’s started 4 games for Newcastle in the Aviva Premiership this season with a further 6 appearances from the bench so at least he will be match fit and it leaves the likes of Cochrane and Malcolm with the pro clubs where they are probably best suited to stay.

Toolis, Gilchrist, R.Gray, J.Gray

Now we’re talking. Big Ritchie is back over in France and playing 80 minutes and Gilchrist is returning to something like his best form after a shocking run of injuries. Despite how good both these players are though I think they are battling for the place on the bench. Gray and Toolis look to be striking up the sort of partnership that could hold down the engine room for years to come. Gray is the workhorse and the leader in the pack, he tackles all day long and he runs hard as well. Toolis is the lineout general and is under-rated in the rest of his game as well with his scrummaging and carrying both having come on leaps and bounds in recent seasons. It’s a real shame that Scott Cummings is injured as he really seems to have something about him but it may well have been too early for him anyway given our current options.

Blindside – Barclay, Harley
Openside – Watson
Number 8 – Wilson, Du Preez, Denton, Bradbury, Hamilton

A lot of these guys can play in various positions across the back row so I’d take the categorisation above with a pinch of salt. Barclay and Watson are for me absolutely nailed on at 6 and 7 and rightly so, this leave number 8 as the position up for grabs. Harley will only be playing if Barclay or Watson gets injured which could free up the 6 shirt either through Barclay being ruled out or moving to 7, so I would deem it unlikely we will see him in action. The other five lads are all competing for 8 and with the exception of Wilson who we know brings a different skill set often favoured by the coaches (if not some of the fans) they are all big ball carriers, in fact with Denton, Bradbury, Hamilton and du Preez all in the squad that is a lot of beef Townsend can call upon. I suspect Townsend may go for Wilson if he’s fit but I’d love to see any one of the carriers at 8 with Wilson on the bench which I think would give us great balance.

Scrum Half
Price, Laidlaw, Pyrgos, Fowles

Price is first choice. He’s become an essential part of our game plan and along with Russell is the fulcrum around which a lot of our play depends. I can imagine a lot of groaning at the other selected group, none of whom would seem to bring the same level of pace and intensity that Price does and which the younger Horne and even Hidalgo-Clyne might have been more able to do. I think if Laidlaw is fully fit then he goes on to the bench and will be seen as the wise head that can see us over the line, like Pyrgos but better. It’s important to remember that Laidlaw is a supremely talented and accomplished player and also a handy goal kicker even if he may not bring the same zip as Price. Pyrgos has been a reliable servant in the past but does not seem to be enjoying a red hot streak of form at the moment and Fowles only ever seems to be a reliable and solid kind of player. I can’t help but feel that it’s a shame George Horne didn’t make the squad but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him absolutely tear it up for Glasgow whilst Pyrgos and Price are away.

Stand Off
Russell, Horne

I don’t think there is much to say here. Russell’s emergence has been a key part of Scotland’s return to being counted a competitive force and his place in the side is utterly essential and guaranteed. Horne is as ever his backup and despite being a clearly talented player he has yet to truly convince most that he is a genuine 10 and not a 12. Russell must stay fit. Jackson will provide further backup. It’s also good to see Hastings invited to train with the squad, if there is one position where we need to groom some added depth then it is standoff.

Inside – Dunbar, Taylor
Outside – H. Jones, Bennett, Grigg

What a supremely talented choice of centres we have here. I reckon Huw Jones is nailed on at 13 for now with Bennett only very recently back from injury. Jones hasn’t shone as brightly as hoped at Glasgow but has rarely looked anything less than brilliant for Scotland. Bennett has a big job on his hands to get that 13 shirt back but has the skills and is a ridiculously good backup. I can’t see Grigg getting anytime which again is a great place to be in considering how good he is.

Inside centre for me is one of the biggest selection headaches we have. Matt Scott hasn’t made the squad which again shows the depth we have here and Horne will be Russell’s backup on the bench which leaves Taylor and Dunbar. Dunbar is the defensive lynchpin and provides a big crash ball option as well as a presence at the breakdown, he’s also shown signs of striking up a more-than-useful partnership with Jones. Dunbar-Jones does have a great balance to it and is a proven combination. Why the headache then? Well Duncan Taylor is fit which is a bit of question mark at the moment, but he just brings something different. He’s solid in defence and can open up holes in a way that Dunbar can’t. As much as I would love to see Taylor-Jones I think fitness might mean Taylor starts on the bench at best.

Back Three
Wing – Harris, L.Jones, Maitland, McGuigan, Seymour
Fullback – Hogg, Jackson, Kinghorn

Again it’s a bit surprising to see Visser miss out given his try-scoring exploits but it seems Townsend just wants more rounded options in his side. To be fair when you look at our backline as a whole we are hardly short of try scorers.

Full back is an easy selection, Hogg if fit starts. He’s world class and must terrify defences like very few players in the Northern hemisphere. If he isn’t fit then Townsend has a big choice to make. Does he go with the seemingly reliable and solid option of Jackson who has been ever present for Glasgow? (As an aside: Jacko was never reliable and solid as a 10, was he?) Or does Townsend pick Kinghorn who is young and raw but utterly electric with ball in hand at fullback for Edinburgh this season.

At wing it would have seemed madness not to have Seymour inked in already not that long ago but his form has gone through the floor. Class is permanent but is that enough with the likes of McGuigan who is in fine try scoring form and impressed on his debut against Australia and Maitland who is supremely assured whenever picked in the squad? Could Kinghorn even be an option on the wing, given his form and ability then he certainly should be in the picture but it may just be too early. There is going to come a point though where both he and Hogg need to be in the team. Harris and Jones round out the squad and for me will provide depth and competition but won’t be troubling the starting 22 barring injury; Harris may also come into contention in the centres.

Scrummo’s 23 for Wales: Hogg, Maitland, H Jones, Dunbar, McGuigan, Russell, Price; Reid, McInally, Welsh, J.Gray, Toolis, Barclay, Watson, du Preez.

Replacements: Bhatti, Turner, McCallum, R.Gray, Wilson, Laidlaw, Horne, Taylor.

70 Responses

  1. Can’t disagree with too much here.
    Not sure Du Preez is the best option at 8 and will we really have 2 centres on the bench and no back 3 cover?
    Obviously Horne is covering 10 and has to be there (unfortunate as that is….), but I would have Jackson or even Kinghorn in the third spot – especially given Hogg is just coming back from injury. Maybe even a winger and let Maitland cover 15 (actually Maitland on the bench wouldn’t surprise me).

    1. I would say have Kinghorn on the bench right now, Hogg is just coming back from injury and may at some point require to come off due to fitness / injury niggles, I know a lot of people think Jackson for 10/15 cover but remember that Kinghorn can also cover the same positions if needed.

      1. Taylor can cover wing and centre positions. Maitland can cover fullback. Seems good to me. Would be great to see Kinghorn get game time during the comp. Injuries are sadly inevitable so his time may well come.

      2. Taylor can also cover 15, so is a very strong bench option. It won’t happen (Toony is not as daft as me) but backs cover of Laidlaw, Taylor, Kinghorn would be pretty special. Hogg, Laidlaw and Kinghorn can all cover 10 (admittedly risky given how rarely any of them actually does). Kinhorn covers back 3, Taylor covers back 3 and centre.

      3. I think Hoggy’s played in the centre a few times as well, although I imagine that he’d be at the bottom of that list the play there.

      4. Kinghorn if I recall correctly has had some brief game time at 10 this year. How did he get on? We don’t have a natural 10 replacement which is nuts and hope Hastings gets the game time for Glasgow during Feb. He has got great skills but needs experience. Kinghorn at 10 v Italy? Price, Kinghorn, McGuigan, Russell, Bennet/Jones, Maitland, Hogg.

      5. Kinghorn played 10 when Van der Walt dropped out at the last minute – was against a fairly weak team I seem to remember – possibly London Irish in Europe or something like that. He had a good game, might be a bit much of an ask under more pressure though.
        I didn’t realise Taylor was so versatile so fair enough. I still think Horne is not the answer.
        Given we seem to be stuck with 3 back replacements – and we have to have 9 and 10 covered – Kinghorn could be an option, but really we need someone who’s first position is 10 to cover, or at least playing there reasonably regularly. If Hastings reaches his potential, I can’t see past him – also I believe he was playing 15 for Currie at the weekend and was pretty good. 3rd position goes to a dedicated centre.

    2. Taylor has played fullback and wing for Scotland so provides cover from 12 – 15, he’s an excellent player to have on the bench

      1. Against Italy I would have :

        1. Gordon Reid
        2. Scott Lawson
        3. Jon Welsh
        4. Ben Toolis
        5. Grant Gilchrist
        6. Cornell Du Preez
        7. Luke Hamilton
        8. Magnus Bradbury
        9. Henry Pyrgos
        10. Blair Kinghorn
        11. Byron McGuigan
        12. Duncan Taylor
        13. Nick Grigg
        14. Chris Harris
        15. Ruarih (Or however you spell it) Jackson

        16. George Turner
        17. Jamie Bhatti
        18 D’Arcy Rae
        19. Jonny Gray
        20. John Barclay
        21. Ali Price
        22. Finn Russell
        23. Stuart Hogg

        Imagine the power coming off the bench here!

      2. Finn, even accepting that there will be injuries during the tournament that is one adventurous team you’ve gone for! I’m not sure any coach would be brave enough to drop Jonny, Barclay, Price, Russell and Hogg!

  2. Excellent read, Scrummo. Just a few comments.

    On the front row, I agree we shouldn’t despair here. First choice hooker is rapidly establishing himself as one of the best in Europe. Reid and Welsh have delivered well at Test level in the recent past and by all accounts are performing well for their clubs. Bhatti looks like another forcing his way to prominence, and I like the look of McCullum although I’m less sure about the strength of the loose heads he’s faced this season. Frankly it’s amazing that despite the numbers of props unavailable, Scotland can still put out a more than half decent Test front row with decent back up. Please, no more front row injuries before 3 February!

    I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that Jonny Gray has worked really hard on improving his carrying this season. Adds more of a cutting edge to the other elements of his game.

    Bit worried about Dunbar’s fitness. I’ve read he may be struggling for full fitness at the moment and there are worries over his susceptibility to further knee damage. Hope I’m wrong.

    It looks like Denton has been doing enough at Worcester to earn a recall. I’d guess Toony and co on the training field will be looking hard to see first whether he has indeed recaptured his RWC 15 form, and second whether he is, as is being reported by some observers, better at ball retention and recycling when carrying.

    1. Denton will fit in well with Solomons’ style of game at Worcester. If that gets him confidence and a run of games, it is exactly what he needs. For all that Scotland under Townsend play high paced rugby we still don’t look to offload all that much so that side of his game should be less of a concern. If he can punch holes and get the team going forward and make his tackles he’ll be doing his job I reckon.

      1. David Flatman was commentating on Worcester vs Bath and was praising Denton throughout the game. He said that he believes Denton has been told to roam the field rather than being pigeon holed into one role and it seems to be working for him. He was carrying really well and even made it back to his own line for a try saving tackle after a break from Anthony Watson

      2. You’ve got that exactly wrong, Denton was performing brilliantly for Edinburgh and then Solomons imposed his one pass smash game plan on him and he lost his mojo. If Denton is allowed to rampage around then he his a special talent but I worry for him having to play under Solomons again.

  3. Nothing much to disagree with only thing I’d say is I think the best midfield we had was a couple seasons ago when Taylor and Dunbar played together. However Taylors forms been a bit hampered by injures recently so even I probably wouldn’t start him. Also agree with the point about have two Centre’s on the bench would probably go for Kinghorn or Jackson instead

  4. Was just having a quick look at the IRB Rankings:
    England 90.87
    Ireland 86.39
    Scotland 84.11
    Wales 82.08
    France 78.09
    Italy 71.25

    If it follows that form then Wales v Scotland is really crunch. Home advantage evens up the rankings. Scotland has a good chance but if it goes badly then the tournament looks tricky.
    We need to be at least as good as we were in the last 2 autumn internationals to compete with England. We’re going to have to be right up for that but that shouldn’t be a problem.
    France I believe should be better than their current ranking. If we have any more front row injuries then we might be in trouble there despite home advantage.
    Ireland away looks difficult. As usual the Irish are doing well in the CC and I can see them carrying that forward into the 6 nations.
    Italy should be a win but we’ve all been there before.

  5. I think I would go for Denton over CDP to start. To me CDP has never been quite the same player since his injury. He is not so explosive and has compensated by putting on some bulk. His best displays for Scotland have been a hard 20 mins of the bench.

    I think I would have Kinghorn in the squad as well, he is an exceptional talent, in the mould of Hoggy when he came on to the scene. You cannot overlook players like that, they will win us games. The sooner he is getting international experience the better. If it is benching to cover Hogg or come onto the wing to start with, so be it.

    Otherwise, I have no real issue with Dunbar or Taylor at IC. Neither have played so much this year, both are class.

    I think that is a pretty good team though.

  6. I’ve gone with Taylor on the bench as I think he’s just too good to leave out. I think between Maitland, McGuigan, Jones and Taylor we have enough versatility to cover the back 3. I reckon if Taylor is fully fit and plays well with Jones then he forces Dunbar out meaning Kinghorn goes onto the bench. Though if either winger isn’t impressing I’d drop them for Kinghorn as well.

    Tempted to put Denton in at 8, but that top knot man…

    1. Denton has flattered to deceive in the past, but I for one would love to see him turn into the rampaging player he could be.

  7. As many have commented before I want Townsend to continue to encourage the players to play expansive running rugby, however, it is vital that the scrums still stand up and we do not over pressure ourselves by leaking penalties. Fears allayed somewhat; there are obvious gaps due to our current injury list but the squad is more balanced than I previously feared.

    Roll on Cardiff!

  8. A lot will depend on Gatlands innate conservatism.With both Ospreys and Scarlets showing v good recent form,this game may not be the opener we thought was likely after the AI.

    1. Agreed, the Welsh annoyingly seem to all be hitting form at the wrong time from our point of view. That and Gatland’s ability to get into our heads and get his team being ‘creative’ at set piece mean I’m quite worried about this one…

  9. 1. Reid
    2. Mcinally
    3. Welsh
    4. J.Gray
    5. Toolis
    6. Barclay
    7. Watson
    8. Du Preez
    9. Price
    10. Russell
    11. Mcguigan
    12. Dunbar
    13. Jones
    14. Kinghorn
    15. Hogg
    16. Turner
    17. Bhatti
    18. Mcallum
    19. R.Gray
    20. Hamilton
    21. Laidlaw
    22. Taylor
    23. Maitland

    Im happy that brings a hell of alot firepower and experience of the bench.
    The only player who might slow us down us down from the bench is Laidlaw but i would only expect 10-20 mins so he can keep the tempo up for that time. Also he has played 10 before at international level so its not all doom and gloom if he comes on their, we just need to change the game plan accordingly.

    Taylor or Bennett i dont mind, Taylor im guessing is abit more match fit and has safer hands imo, More likely Dunbar to get injured than Jones also.

    Maitland for back 3 Cover and if Kinghorn has a stinker we can bring him on early, certainly i think he is worth a shot starting over bench though. he has not played their before but i would be happy to see him there due to his threat ball in hand and his confidence currently.

    Im honestly not worried about the scrum, its not a vital part of our game plan and all we need to do is just hold it even if going backwards slightly. Just don’t completely collaspe.

      1. James, Laidlaw can cover stand off if needed, lets be honest though we should be keeping Russell on the whole 80 so it would only be emergency cover, laidlaw has started at 10 in the past though and got a job done at international level and he is a safe pair of hands. Hoggy can also come into the line at first receiver and boot to the corners.We would just have to change the game plan abit.

        Lets be honest is it that worse than Horne their and also taking a spot from Taylor.

    1. Kinghorn is a Fullback / Stand Off, much the same as the likes of Hogg or to a greater extent Jackson, why would you play him on the wing when you see the talent we have in Maitland, Seymour, Jones, Harris etc? The way I see the selection in the backs for cover is this :

      Scrum Half
      Greig Laidlaw (Cover for 10)
      Ali Price
      Henry Pyrgos
      Nathan Fowles

      Stand Off
      Finn Russell
      Peter Horne (Cover for 12)

      Alex Dunbar
      Duncan Taylor (Cover for 15)
      Huw Jones (Cover for 15)
      Mark Bennett (Cover for 10)
      Nick Grigg

      Chris Harris
      Lee Jones
      Sean Maitland (Cover for 15)
      Byron McGuigan (Cover for 13)
      Tommy Seymour (Cover for 15)

      Stuart Hogg (Cover for 10)
      Blair Kinghorn (Cover for 10)

      1. Reason i put kinghorn on the wing is 1. he has been the best back 3 player in the pro14 possibly in stats. 2. The skills required for wing are similar to that of fullback. 3. Seymour is off form, the others for me dont offer as much threat as Kinghorn potentially can and i would want to see how he does as it could be outstanding. 4. you could put maitland their to start with but i dont think i want kinghorn coming on with 15 mins to go in a high pressure situation. id rather experience comes on who can come on at any time if it dosent work out. ive not seen enough of harris to comment, Lee jones for me does not offer threat ball in hand , does all the basics well, but thats not enough to be pushing top 4 in the world imo.

        Basically its a gamble in my mind which could pay off massively and if not we have an experienced player to bring on in maitland.

        Considering the injuries to wales i want as much threat ball in hand , it also means the defense cant focus as much on Jones/Dunbar/Taylor.

  10. Great article Scrummo. Although there are plenty options in the back row, I am surprised he did not go for Adam Ashe who is a better ball player than most of the big ball carriers. Agree that George Horne would have been the exciting selection at 9 to back up Ali Price and I’m a bit mystified why Adam Hastings has had so little game time for Glasgow. From the limited times I have seen him, he has looked the next best option to Finn.

    1. Ashe was getting smashed behind the gain line time and again against Leinster. For all we talk about the need to have good hands or being a good footballer we completely disregard the benefit of a number 8 who can burst through tackles. We almost turn out nose up at the rest for resorting to it.

  11. Excellent analysis, can’t really disagree with any of that, the team is the same as I would pick and for similar reasons. I prefer Taylor to Dunbar, he is more of an attacking threat but he does provide bench cover that Dunbar can’t so that’s fair. As I said on a previous thread, lets see what Laidlaw can do. He has been slow in the past but he was also captain and commander in chief. With Barclay as Captain and Russell pulling the strings if Laidlaw is told, just go and be a scrum half (and no stupid box kicks) I wonder how he would get on? If he can play the type of game he is undoubtedly a huge asset to have in the team. It’s a shame he hasn’t picked Horne jnr, remember this time last year Price was thrown into it (was he even capped?) and shone. At least Horne will get to rip it up for Glasgow in the mean time.

    It’s an unusual situation for us to be in that we can drop players with a good reputation on grounds of good form, until very recently they would have had to play anyway due to lack of viable alternatives, but for me Pyrgos and Seymour haven’t done nearly enough recently to get near the 23.

    Roll on Wales! I’m not going to get too carried away and will say that I would like to see us as a minimum beat Wales, Italy and France. We absolutely must beat France at home. Ireland away and England full stop might be a step too far but if we play like we did against NZ then we have nothing to fear, I will be happy against England if we make a good fist of it and avoid the ridiculing of last year.

    1. Laidlaw’s ability will also depend a lot on how quick the ball from the forwards is: slow ball and he tends to revert to arm waving and arranging instead of picking and going.

    2. Think Price made his debut against Georgia autumn before last from memory. Also Laidlaw gets a hard time for box kicking but when your forwards are getting smashed back there isn’t a huge amount you can do

  12. I honestly think that all other things being equal, it will be Barclays leadership that can win us this game. We’ve “lent” him to the Scarlets for a few seasons and he has become a formidable captain, leader and tactician as well as super smart operator at the breakdown*. Whoever was responsible for consigning him to the wilderness during this time should hang their head in shame. If he leads us to victory in this one, we should be thanking the Welsh :)
    *barring the very occasional misunderstandings with a ref

  13. I’m impressed that everyone has been regularly watching Sale matches in the AP and Challenge Cup to know that Byron McGuigan is now a nailed on starter……

    Townsend has picked Seymour in every big game of his coaching career. He picked him for all three AIs despite Seymour struggling with a toe injury. I find it hard to believe that he is about to drop him now for a player he didn’t want at Glasgow a few years ago.

      1. Townsend addressed this before the Australia game when he named Maitland on the wing despite him not being long back from injury. He said he wanted a winger who also played like a full back in terms of counter attacking.

        It worth remembering that McGuigan wasn’t picked to start any of the three AIs. Lee Jones was picked ahead of him twice and Maitland once. He only got a start because of Hogg’s injury. I’d also argue that Jones performance against NZ was more impressive than McGuigan’s against Australia.

  14. Impressed at how sanguine some are at missing two complete front rows. I am bricking it.

    Wales are formidable in Cardiff and beating them would be a huge achievement. Their worries are almost a photo-negative of ours: they are most concerned with locks, centres and back three due to injuries, we’re most worried about front row and back up half backs. It will be a fascinating game.

    Looks like North may be straight back from injury into centre. That is a huge chink in their defence. Also murmurings that Steff Evans is not ready for test level and makes a lot of mistakes. So opportunities will be there. Will Wales play the Scarlets template or try to exploit our set piece weakness?

  15. Interesting nugget in Townshend interview in scotsman, for those who have doubted Laidlaw’s ability to fit into a Toonie style – he was in line to captain Scotland in the summer tour before his Lions call up AND the November series before his injury vs Ospreys. So, when he is back to full fitness Price will have to be playing at his best to keep hold of the jersey – which is great for competition in the squad (and also a hilarious rebuke to online received wisdom).

  16. Good analysis and gives me a bit of confidence. Wales have problems as well. The secret in Cardiff is riding out the first 20 minutes and getting the crowd calmed down. If we can get ahead, the crowd expectation will work against them.

    So long as we have no more injuries the front row should secure set piece. Reid and Welsh would be my choice, keep it stable, just do the basics well.

    I think the most interesting differentiator is the boiler house. In my experience it take a lot of games on the trot to get the big guys consistently match fit. It is just a make up thing.

    It has been a long time since we have seen Ritchie Gray at peak fitness and if he is truely fit he brings more options than any of them.

    Toolis would be in my 23 he is the fittest IMO and it is time to give him test match footy (as they say where he comes from) and see how he copes.

    Jonny Gray is not quite himself however the 6N with his brother in tow might get him back, his tackle stats make him a 1st choice. I think Gilchrist is fit but needs a few more games, I like his consistency however the competition is tough now.

    The welsh have left Chartris out and he is a menace in rucks, AWJ looks a bit tired , Ball was more awkward than talented but he is out. So step up lads , you can make the difference!!

    So assuming we win ball, the next battle is Webb and frankly Pyrgos is not up to that challenge and Price while capable lacks Webb’s experience. I cannot see Laidlaw being fit for Wales.

    Once away from the set piece it depends which Finn shows up and if we play Hogg our game plan will be obvious. If mentally fit, Seymour would be a bonus but any of them on the wing will be ok though they will have a game on their hands depending where they play Liam Williams.

    On that point, we should remove their mobile phones ( i wish) as I feel sure the Welsh will be winding them up before that game. Williams and Hogg will have their own battle to prove as we never got to see who Gatland would chose as FB for the Lions tests.

    Williams under pressure is likely to spit the dummy and getting a few backs up.

    1. “If we can get ahead, the crowd expectation will work against them.” Didn’t work so well for us in 2010…

      1. James , I love your words of wisdom and I insist on more.

        The turning point in 2010 was when our Thom Evans broke his neck, a life changing injury.

        Where do you think our lads minds were after that sickening incident ! At half time they knew their friend’s life was changed forever, his brother still on the pitch, a welsh crowd celebrating the moment that changed their fortunes ignorent or indifferent to the significance of his injuries.

        You need to stay on the pitch in Cardiff and we finished with thirteen that day and only just lost, how many did we need to remove to gift them the game and get out of there.

        If you have any good game plan advice on beating the welsh in Cardiff , lets hear it James !!!!

      2. Calm down Bulldog, I was merely pointing out that we’ve been ahead against Wales before and still lost. Yes there may have been incidents on the pitch in that game but serious incidents happen more frequently these days than even in 2010. Can you guarantee that there won’t be injuries at key times on 3rd Feb?

        I’ll be as happy as everyone else to get a win in Cardiff. It’s going to be tough but we have the players to do it. But they’ll need to be focussed for 80 minutes not just the first 20. I also wouldn’t write us off even if we are behind after 20, just like I wouldn’t write Wales off if they’re behind after 20.

      3. Chris Paterson also ‘burst’ a kidney in that game, an injury which James Robson described as of unimaginable pain. It was a catastrophic match for Scotland. We actually managed to put out something approaching a decent lineup that day and we were in control until about 65 mins. It all ended in disaster of course, with 13 players and all sorts of positional problems going into the last minutes . Still haven’t quite got over it and I don’t think I will until we next win in Cardiff.

      4. And Scott Lawson is in the squad this year too! If he did by some chance make it into the match 23, I really hope history doesn’t repeat itself. A dreadful day, horrific injuries, sending-offs and Shane Williams ecstatic face at the end – he was a great player but just hate the memory of that day. And was Lee Byrne tripped or did he dive…???

      5. Good on your for responding James. I am saying the crowd need managed in Cardiff and that has to be part of the game plan.

        If we fail to plan , we plan to fail and yes incidents do turn games, but that is no reason to avoid the obvious. 2010 was a scunner followed by 2014 where a young Hogg was carded, probably frustrated and goaded by his Lions team mates (well bullies actually but that is for another post in here).

        Cardiff is by far the most intimidating away venue followed by Paris , however it is less so at the Stade. The Parc was just a cacophony.

        Since they got the roof at the Principality (2000) it has got worse , so keep it open.

    1. Suspect we will have to get used to this what with Cameron Redpath and others now coming through the English junior sides.

      With England hoovering up ex Scotland u20 players it’s really important we get more u20 graduates on pro deals. It was a bit gutting to see George Thornton not being offered a contract by Edinburgh or Glasgow in the summer for example. He’s now lost to Wasps and if he reaches international standard he’ll have the RFU’s English qualified player subsidy to discourage him from playing for us again

      1. Bottom line is that neither Graham nor Vellacott would get into our side at present. I am baffled by failing to keep the A sides going, as I would’ve thought they’d provide a pathway for more experience within the squad and revenue, but hey what do I know?

      2. Very shortsighted to let Thornton go without offering a pro deal. Along with Nicol on the other side they were responsible for the most destructive scrum I’ve seen at under 20 level. Surely Edinburgh could have done with him given all their issues at loose head.

      3. I suppose the ‘Super Six’ will help give the pathway for the Academy players who maybe aren’t quite ready to step up to Edinburgh and Glasgow straight away.

      4. If Graham’s in the squad but not picked he’s still eligible for us. Perhaps he’s just been tasked with a bit of undercover work on their tactics and codes…

  17. I would have liked Vellacott in our squad as he adds zip but would we really have picked him if he wasn’t a potential future England player? He played 2nd fiddle to George Horne in the U20’s set up and Horne hasn’t made the squad. If Vellacott has progressed so much since then that he has surpassed Horne (ability wise), why is he not the starting 9 at Gloucester? Willi Heinz is a good player but not great and the wrong side of 30.

    Lets play the players who want to represent Scotland and put provisions in place for the future to safeguard against losing players in this manner again.

    1. Vellacott is gone now, he will be capped by England, even if this means just keeping him away from Scotland.

  18. Be nice to see Darcy Graham play his way into a non-training call up. For my money he’s the next superstar.

    Shame about Cameron Redpath. Meant to be a talent. Anyone know if there’s any chance he’d play for Scotland?

    The starting XV picks itself, save for no.8. I think CdP v Denton, so that means Toonie will play Wilson.

    These January weeks are dragging!

  19. I’m surprised that James Lang hasn’t had a call up, he’s been playing very well for Harlequins this season starting at 10 and 12. He’s represented Scotland at under 18 level but is also Welsh qualified so it would be good to get him capped asap and could provide a solid back up for Russell

  20. It was good to see a few players putting down markers this weekend. Hogg is absolutely flying and Seymour and Maitland both looked dangerous and scored great tries.

    George Horne might not be in the squad at the moment but I think if either Price or Laidlaw get injured he’ll be ahead of Pyrgos and Fowles immediately. Matt Smith and Matt Fagerson were superb for Glasgow as well.

You might also like these:

The Scotland team to face Chile this weekend has been announced and features 10 changes from the side that beat the USA last weekend.
Rory watches as Scotland reach the half way point in their tour with victory over the USA in Washington.
Craig is joined by Rory and Iain to look at the latest news including Scotland's win over Canada and the upcoming test against the USA.
Gregor Townsend has picked the strongest XV possible from his touring squad for the visit to Washington DC to play the USA, writes Rory.

Scottish Rugby News and Opinion