With the last round of European pool rugby finished, the Scotland squad are now together in camp. If anyone gets injured now, well it’s their own silly fault. No sitting on wine glasses, or playing keepy-ups with gym equipment this week please.
You might even go so far as to say that the run-out Glasgow’s – and most of Scotland’s – backline got in the hard-fought win against Exeter on Saturday will have done them the world of good. That try from their own line will go down as one of the classic Glasgow tries of all time – and they’ve had a few likely ones in recent years, even another in that game – and possibly the only sour note left would be George Horne’s absence from the Scotland squad as he was a core part of it.
Was nice to get our mojo back yesterday. It was fun.
— Pete Horne (@Petehorne72) 21 January 2018
For fans who have watched Tommy Seymour’s rise from an unheralded Ulster cast-off utility back to prolific Scotstoun favourite, Lions winger and a fixture in the national side, his recent drop in form has been galling. With the toe injury that caused it now hopefully in the past, the sight of Seymour and Hogg tearing up a wing together was stirring. Hogg, 2017-18 edition, seems to just be able to perform well, regardless of when he last played – the mark of a truly special player.
Sean Maitland’s try during a strong performance for Saracens was another indication that two of Scotland’s top players might be hitting their straps at just the right time. Given the debate we’ve had in the comments over who should get the wing spots, that can only be a good thing. Sean still runs like he’s not really moving though.
Expect a buoyant mood in camp this week, for the backs coach at least.
There will be some debate over who might play at 12, with Pete Horne the most likely to fill in should both Alex Dunbar and Duncan Taylor be unavailable. Huw Jones played a blinder at 12 in the Currie Cup final before he joined Glasgow so that’s worth remembering. Mark Bennett has only played three games, but he got better with each one even as a depleted Edinburgh went down fighting over in Paris with a performance that had plenty to like about it. They will now face a home quarter-final against Cardiff before an away semi in France to Pau or Stade (again).
Jones/Bennett would be an unfamiliar partnership now but as they are both still just 24, looking into the future to the 2019 World Cup or beyond, it could be one with legs.
We’ll wait to hear on the injury to Alex Dunbar, but George Turner picked up a leg injury that could keep him out for up to 8 weeks and has put paid to his 6 Nations ambitions; it throws the Scott Lawson debate right back to the forefront. Neil Cochrane or Pat McArthur may get a call up but both pro-team coaches are now looking down the barrel of a serious resource shortage at hooker.
Here’s some behind the scenes footage, Denton hair watchers will be particularly pleased:
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) 21 January 2018
Is there an exile out there in the Southland that we haven’t noticed? After all, it wouldn’t be the Six Nations build-up without parachuting an unheralded kiwi in.
Other than the front row, most of the rest of the pack is healthy which isn’t the case for Wales who will be without a raft of frontline names. Let the Gatland hand grenades begin. Underdogs, us?
UPDATE: George Turner is indeed out and Neil Cochrane has been called up to the squad. Richie Gray missed the 3-day camp with a calf complaint but is expected to join the squad ahead of the tournament.