Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Gav’s Rugby World Cup squad: forwards

Jonny Gray breaks away to score for Scotland - pic © Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography Photo Credit: Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography

GREGOR Townsend’s first Six Nations as Scotland head coach may have just drawn to a close, but attention within Murrayfield will have already turned to the summer tour and, only 18 months away, the World Cup in Japan.

Of course the emergence of the likes of Darryl Marfo and Jamie Bhatti were plus-points from the November campaign, while in the Six Nations, Nick Grigg and Blair Kinghorn put their hands up to show they deserve long-term squad places.

And the Scotland coach has, in certain areas at least, an embarrassment of riches from which to select his match-day 23-man squad from.

The fact that Scotland did without Alastair Dickinson, Ross Ford, John Hardie, Josh Strauss, Matt Scott and Tim Visser (to name just a few) for their entire Six Nations campaign bodes well for the depth being developed at club level and with the national team’s age grade sides.

So with all that in mind, we’ve taken a look at a possible World Cup squad, if Townsend was picking his squad just now. A 36-man squad has been assembled and it’s worth noting, current injuries have been ignored – so we’re presuming everyone is fit and available for selection.

We start with the forwards. . .


On the loosehead, the emergence of Marfo and Bhatti gives ‘Toony’ his first headache – with Gordon Reid occupying the number 1 jersey for the entire Six Nations campaign, you’d imagine the London Irish man would be nailed-on for a spot on the plane. Then there’s Allan Dell to consider, a British Lion thanks to Gatland’s ‘Geography Six’, he was a mainstay of the summer tour success and would also likely be involved.
That, and the fact that should Al Dickinson recover from his injury woes, he’d still be 34, we think it would be one of Marfo or Bhatti for the third loosehead spot – with experience favouring the Edinburgh man as he started all three Tests in November.

Selected: Allan Dell, Darryl Marfo, Gordon Reid

Unlucky to miss out: Al Dickinson, Jamie Bhatti

Meanwhile on the tighthead, Simon Berghan’s Six Nations performances have surely established his place as a long-term part of the squad, where Zander Fagerson and Willem Nel are the other options. Both are first class operators, making this one of Townsend’s easier decisions.

Jon Welsh appears out of favour with the national team despite his club form, while Murray McCallum’s time on the international stage will come.

Selected: Simon Berghan, Willem Nel, Zander Fagerson

Unlucky to miss out: Jon Welsh, Murray McCallum


Injury problems have paved the way for Stuart McInally to cement his place among the squad, and perhaps even as first-choice given his impressive Six Nations displays. Fraser Brown is another quality operator. Ford would be the obvious candidate to take the final hooker berth, but faces competition from George Turner, another handed his international chance by Townsend in November. Ford’s experience could prove crucial and should there be any injuries, his quality at Test level is proven, so he edges this one.

Turner’s time will come, and Cammy Fenton is another making great strides at Edinburgh, while James Malcolm continues to work hard along the M8. Scott Lawson offers more experience, but his Test time seems done, while Edinburgh have signed Dave Cherry for next season, adding to the options.

Selected: Fraser Brown, Ross Ford, Stuart McInally

Unlucky to miss out: George Turner


Another area where the Scots are well-stocked, but similarly an area that is fairly settled. The first names on the list should both include ‘Gray’ – the brothers are now both seasoned internationalists and Scotland’s first choice for a long time. Grant Gilchrist impressed during the Six Nations wins over England and France, and looks close to his best under Richard Cockerill at Edinburgh, so he takes the third slot. The other two positions will be claimed by Tim Swinson and Ben Toolis, who have both proved their worth to the national side of late.

The make-up of the match-day squad will be up for much debate, but these five are fairly settled in their squad places and that shouldn’t change – but the future looks bright with the likes of Scott Cummings, Lewis Carmichael and Callum Hunter-Hill on the scene.

Selected: Ben Toolis, Grant Gilchrist, Jonny Gray, Richie Gray, Tim Swinson


John Barclay is Scotland’s captain and Ryan Wilson the vice-captain, so their names are the first on the list in this area. Hamish Watson has fought off John Hardie for club and country and is now Scotland’s first-choice openside, although Hardie offers a top class alternative, so they join the squad. With possibly only two places left, there will be a host of good players who miss out; David Denton, Rob Harley, Magnus Bradbury, Luke Hamilton, Adam Ashe, Cornell Du Preez – they are just some of the names in contention.

Denton’s re-emergence as an impact sub during the Six Nations, coupled with his displays for Worcester that have led to a three-year deal with Leicester get him the fifth place among our six-man back-row. The final spot goes to the man signed by Alan Solomons to replace Denton at Sixways, Du Preez, with Wilson and Barclay’s ability to fill in on the openside, plus the presence of breakdown experts McInally and Brown, allowing for the selection of Du Preez’s usually hard-carrying.

Blair Cowan’s time in dark blue seems to be over although a move to Saracens (where he’s on loan) might change that, while for the likes of Bradbury and his Edinburgh team-mates Jamie Ritchie and Luke Crosbie, and Glasgow’s Matt Fagerson, it would be a huge gamble to blood them internationally at a World Cup.

Selected: Cornell Du Preez, David Denton, Hamish Watson, John Barclay, John Hardie, Ryan Wilson

Unlucky to miss out: Adam Ashe, Blair Cowan, Luke Hamilton, Magnus Bradbury, Rob Harley

Coming tomorrow: a look at the backs. Please keep the discussion in the comments below to forwards only!

63 Responses

  1. Agree for the most part. Not sure Ross Ford should be the 3rd hooker – his line out throwing is consistently awful and we should probably looking forward rather than back here. Hooker certainly one of the positions to work on in the summer, give Turner a shot.

    As far as I am concerned, CDP should never be anywhere near a Scotland squad again. Again, give a couple of the younger guys a go on tour – Hamilton and Fagerson particularly.

    I don’t think age/experience should be a barrier to getting it the squad if the talent is there (look at the All Blacks selections for example), and there are still plenty of games to get a couple of exciting players up to speed.

    1. Agreed CDP has not been on consistent form all season . We need to see more of Luke Hamilton, I feel he is getting better all the time.

  2. Both Edinurgh and Scotland scrum have been secure without Ford – and his scrummaging has always been the default excuse for picking him through his times of poor form. I also do not think he has anything like the mobility, carrying and turnover threat of Brown, McInally or Turner. Great servant, time to say goodbye, nostagia has no place here.

    Interesting no mention of Strauss who was awesome for Sale at the weekend while Denton did a CDP impersonation

    1. Ford is third choice now but Turner is a liability at test level as he just isn’t good enough yet at the set piece. If he can address those weaknesses then sure, otherwise solid but unspectacular Ford should be there – two injuries in one position is really not that unlikely.

      CDP should be at the back of the queue. Hope Strauss, Bradbury and Hamilton get to audition but probably right they are competing for one place given Toonie’s preference for Wilson. Also would not be surprised to see Hardie lose out just because he only really plays one position which is a bit of a luxury. I think he’s outstanding though.

      1. Strauss burnt his boats leaving Glasgow…..even Toonie has a memory !! He can stay in the Aviva….his choice

      2. Strauss was pushed out of Glasgow who thought he wasn’t good value.

        He was open about wanting to stay but not getting offered a contract and played for Toonie in the Scotland v Fiji match in the summer tour.

        Allegedly Toonie thinks Strauss only turns up for big games and has probably payed the biggest price of all those involved in the Fiji debacle.

      3. Strauss had a good game last weekend however is just not consistent or fast enough IMO. Denton is a nearly man , not a lot in it.

  3. 3 contentious selections

    Gordon Reid, No chance. He was 1st choice as Marfo & Dell were injured he offers nothing but a decent scrummage. Marfo or Dell would start and Bhatti is a much better option off the bench than Reid.

    Ross Ford, not for me. Can’t hook, can scrum! How many free kicks will we give away at scrum time when that big oaf cannae lift his foot. Turner showed in the Autumn he is an able deputy. Better at the breakdown too.

    Cornell du Preez? what ya smokin!! There is no way Toonie picks him. Never had a good performance in the bark blue and various options exist to remove his name from the selectors thoughts. You’ve even missed Jamie Ritchie from the list of contenders altogether. I’d imagine Bradbury would get the slot you have allocated for du Preez but there’s a lot of development time for M Fagerson, Ashe, Ritchie and others before next September.

    The rest looks pretty nailed on, injuries aside, apart from Denton. He is playing well now but going to a better team next season and his playing time may be a bit more limited.

    I like Strauss but Townsend doesn’t like/rate him. Something has to change there before we see him in blue again.

    1. Both Toonie and Strauss need to get over themselves and make up. The World Cup is too important for both parties: a last chance for Strauss to play on the biggest stage of all, and for Toonie to have our best no8 option at his disposal. Denton is just an inferior version of Strauss frankly, and Wilson is an auxiliary 6 not a natural 8.

      Bradbury Fagerson Mk2 and Ashe all look promising but RWC2019 is probably too soon for them to force themselves into the XV

  4. If the RWC was this year, then I’d say take Ford. But as he’ll be well over 35 come next September, I doubt whether his experience will compensate for the lack of pace and fitness that comes with hitting vets age. As for even mentioning Scott Lawson, much as he’s been a Scottish stalwart he’ll be 38 by the time of the World Cup. The 3rd hooker spot is George Turner’s to lose.
    I also agree with others that the final back row slot should be Bradbury or Hamilton, rather than CdP. On current form.
    Age and experience (or lack thereof) won’t be a barrier to being selected. But any successful RWC squad has an average of over 40 caps. It would have to be an exceptional talent to take to Japan, over a tried and tested player.

  5. I’m with you except for Ford and CdP. Turner for Ford and I’d rather have Ritchie, Bradbury, Crosbie, M Fagerson, M Smith, Ashe, Strauss or Hamilton than CdP.

  6. I think a good case made in all areas of the pack, other than I’d swap CDP for Strauss largely on the basis of CDP’s awful showing in Cardiff (although tbf, no one did themselves any favours), but also because Strauss seems to have the grunt to make yards while still being a good handler of the ball.

    1. My issue with CdP was that he seemed like he couldn’t be bothered. He did nothing until the second half, at which point he was replaced by Wilson. At least Price et al. were trying to do something!

  7. With the World Cup still 18 months away I have to say I’m unsure about a few of your selections, Gav.

    With the best will in the World I cannot see Gordy Reid or Ross Ford making the cut, with Bhatti taking Reid’s place and Turner taking Fordy’s. I also reckon that Swinson will be eclipsed by Scott Cummings by the start of next season.

    I agree with Fraser (sic) that CdP has probably played his last in the dark blue, but who takes his place? Bradbury? Hamilton? If he bulks up a bit I reckon we might see the emergence of James Ritchie as Scotland’s line breaking, ball carrying number 8.

    1. Great comment. Agree with everything apart from I think Bradbury or M.Fagerson will be that ball carrying 8! Ritchie a superb player too but I don’t think his carrying is at the level of the other two so can’t see him at 8.

    2. All fair points – I was picking the squad if the RWC was now (regardless of injury) so felt that Reid had been involved enough to merit selection. Bhatti is certainly pushing for that spot though & it’ll be interesting to see how he (and others, like Turner and Cummings) develop

  8. A few of the guys picked there will most likely will be supplanted by the end of 2018.

    The 7 games for Scotland this year will give an idea of which of the up and comers are in with a chance for the WC.

    It would be foolish for most of Bradbury, Ritchie, Cummings, Fagerson Jnr, Crosby, Carmichael, Smith, McCallum, Horne Jnr and Crosby not to be given a chance to put a vase forward. We know what our best XV are capable of so let’s try and build a too quality squad too.

  9. Some things i agree with others i do not.

    Looseheads – Allan Dell, Jamie Bhatti, Rory Sutherland
    Dickinson wont recover from his injury i believe and Marfo has only had 3 decent games in his career. Reid will not offer enough around the park at that stage of Scotlands progression so misses out also

    Hooker – Mcinally, Brown, Ford
    I agree with the 3 named, besides Turner there is no debate and he is not powerful enough in the pack and has been known to be abit of a liability with discipline.

    Tighthead – Berghan, Fagerson, Mcallum
    Tough one between Mcallum and Nel but Mcallum is going to have a breakthrough season next one. He also offers versatility to play Loosehead and can get around the park with Nel cannot, Considering our game will focus on avoiding scrums also and Nel misses out. Berghan and Fagerson offer good all round play and set piece.

    Second Row – Richie Gray, Johnny Gray, Grant Gilchrist, Lewis Carmichel and Scott Cummings.
    Grays and Gilchrist pick themselfs, I predict Cummings to overtake Swinson next season and would argue he is close now.
    Carmichel is my bolter and it seems Toolis is out of favour, he has looked impressive and dynamic and agile as well as aggressive at the breakdown, offers something different and you can tell he has played in the SH before.

    Backrow – Watson, Hardie, Denton, Wilson, Barclay, Blade Thompson

    This is a ridiculously hard position to pick and so unlucky on Strauss, Bradbury, Ritchie, Hamilton, Ashe, Fagerson, Crosbie.

    I picked the 2 first choice sevens in Watson and Hardie as both will be getting starts due to short turnarounds.

    Wilson and Denton take the spots at 8 as they are the current incumbents but i would really like to see Strauss in but it does not look like its going to happen.

    at 6 Barclay has to go and im going for a big Wildcard in Blade Thompson, hope he joins us and was a first choice at the Hurricanes which says a huge amount about his ability.

    Clearly Du Preez is out.

    1. Good shout on Blade Thompson, if he wants to play for Scotland and with his NZ pedigree then I would have thought he’d be straight in pre RWC squads like Hardie was, could he be a No.8 option? Would love to see Strauss given another go, he is the only option available with real bulk who is playing well at the moment.
      For me, Ross Ford has to be out of contention, good servant but never more than 6 out of 10 in the dark blue and shaky at line outs. Would rather see what Turner, Malcolm and Fenton can do between now and the RWC.
      Agree with your lock options, Lacey, I would think that all would prove they are higher in the pecking order than Swinson come RWC but Toonie does like him.
      Got to have Hardie back in, he is a fantastic player.

  10. Also i forgot about Ashe Fagerson and Cowan in the backrow who will be close around the fringes also, Very exciting times for scotland in the backrow, insane depth and talent.

    1. I don’t think we have great depth in the back row really – we don’t have a single outstanding 8 and in all honesty lack a 6 who looks consistently superior to our 6N rivals (though I rate Barclay). Look at Ireland’s squad for real back row depth, even Wales’ second choice back row gave us a spanking in Cardiff.

      1. Well, our back row gave Wales’ first-choice back row a spanking last year… I think we’ve three top quality back rowers (Barclay, Hardie, Watson), four with real potential (Ashe, Bradbury, Fagerson, Ritchie), a couple who could be prospects (Crosbie, Smith) and three who can do a job (Denton, Strauss, Wilson). So, not great depth yet, but the potential is there.

      2. I’m not saying our back row lack quality or are not a good unit. I’m just saying that we don’t have insane depth at all – in fact our back row is probably not a unit we can say is clearly superior to Wales, Ireland (even England when Billy V is fit – Italy have real quality in their back row too and apart from Parisse they are kids).

        We do have some bright talents coming through, but at this stage who knows whether they’ll be decent players or the kind of players that can take us to the next level?

        Anyway, I’m not so sure personnel is always decisive. What is actually much more important is how they are drilled and execute an effective strategy.

  11. In short

    Loosehead – Allen, Bhatti, Sutherland
    Hooker – Mcinally, Brown, Ford
    Tighthead – Berghan, Fagerson, Mcallum
    2nd Row – Grays, Gilchrist, Cummings, Carmichel
    Backrow – Barclay/Thompson, Watson/Hardie, Wilson/Denton.
    20 Forwards.

  12. Tim Swinson in the RWC squad? What? Can someone explain to me what worth he has shown of late to the Scotland side?

    I really dont see it.

    And the to exclude Bhatti is just madness – does the author know the RWC is in 2019?

  13. Sadly unimaginative selection based on perception rather than reality. Did any of Reid, Nel, Swinson, Du Preez, do anything in the six nations of note? They and Ford have had their chance and fluffed their lines. Time to move on from “honest but limited triers” to younger hungrier players like Dell, Allen, McCallum, Cummings, Carmichael, Bradbury, Ritchie, M Fagerson

    1. Nel was at one stage the second of our two world class players after Hogg. He is straight back from injury and chucked into the 6N. Are you seriously writing him off completely???

      1. Yes I’m afraid so. He’s a shadow of the player he was before his injury troubles. I just don’t see him recovering to anywhere near the same level. There’s no room for sentiment at test level

      2. I think the test for Nell is can he get back and hold the starting position for Edinburgh for the rest of the season. If he can and he stays fit he’s on the plane. I think Nell is a big factor in the stepping up of the other props over the last year or two. Hope he stays around for a while after retirement to coach the scrum.

  14. Disagree somewhat, a lot of guys in there we know what they can do, and we´ll be around 15 months from a world cup. Our pack is good but I feel we need to add in a couple of carrying option to break the line. Denton and Strauss are far more the one out grinding options which don´t suit our style of play. Likewise Swinson et all.
    I would go:
    Dell, Bhatti, Marfo
    McInally, Brown, Turner (injuries aside, I think Ford is done)
    Nel, Fagerson, Berghan
    Gray x 2, Gilchrist, Cummings, Toolis
    Barclay, Hamilton
    Watson, Ritchie, Hardie
    Wilson (will always be in Townsend´s squad when fit and in certain circumstances is the right choice), Bradbury

    Until Ashe is fit and Fagerson has a little more experience, Bradbury is our best chance of an 8 who can punch holes and allow the likes of Watson and Jonny to be carrying into a defence moving backwards, where I think they will be far more effective. I´d always have Richie Gray as one of our locks as he offers that same ability.

  15. I’ve just had a look at the size of the previous squad for the RWC’s. Unless anything has c hanged its a 31 man squad and quite simply, we cannot afford to take 20 forwards and only 11 backs.

    I’ve revised my forward thoughts:

    Bhatti, Marfo & McCallum ( can play 1&3)
    McInally, Brown
    Nel, Fagerson
    J Gray, R Gray, Cummings & Gilchrist
    Barclay, Ritchie
    Watson, Hardie
    Wilson & Bradbury

    17 forwards leaving space for 14 backs.

    1. Absolutely agree. Gav seems to want his cake and eat it with a 36 man squad.
      However, it’s a risk going with only 2 hookers, IMO. You’d probably have only 5 backrowers, with cover from somebody than can play 5/6 if necessary.
      In which case isn’t it a bit of a luxury to take 2 out and out 7s? Especially when Barclay can cover there as well.

      1. You need 3 hooks s as otherwise you might pick up an injury prior to a game and not have a hooker on the bench – which I believe is forbidden and could lead to forfeiting the match.

      2. Only 2 hookers were initially selected in 2015. A hooker can be flown over if an injury occurs.

  16. Gavin, something seriously awry in the article, Townsend is committed to dynamic rugby – it needs dynamic players, possibly slightly younger than recent squads, not older..

    Yet you say :

    “Jamie Ritchie and Luke Crosbie, and Glasgow’s Matt Fagerson, it would be a huge gamble to blood them internationally at a World Cup.”

    You imply none are going to get a cap in the 18 months to WC in Sept 2019, despite the upcoming summer tour and another 6N round in Feb 2019. Your belief that Mat F is going to be a gamble not worth blooding in the WC but he will be 21 by then, he may not be good enough as you imply. Perhaps young players should not bother if this is the future.

    The ages in Sept 2019 of your 20 chosen men of the Probus Pack, not one 24 or 25yr old :


    Selected: Allan Dell 27y6m, Darryl Marfo 28y11m, Gordon Reid 32y6m

    Selected: Simon Berghan 28y11m, Willem Nel 33y5m, Zander Fagerson 23y8m

    Selected: Fraser Brown 30y3m, Ross Ford 35y5m, Stuart McInally 29y1m

    Selected: Ben Toolis 27y6m, Grant Gilchrist 29y1m, Jonny Gray 26y6m, Richie Gray 30y1m, Tim Swinson 32y7m

    Back Row:
    Selected: Cornell Du Preez 28y6m, David Denton 29y7m, Hamish Watson 27y11m, John Barclay 33y0m, John Hardie 31y2m, Ryan Wilson 30y4m

    Your backrow will be perfect for playing English rugby, if they live past the opening matches

    1. David, you seem to be under the misapprehension that dynamic = young. If there is anything we have learnt from this year’s 6N it is that you need to earn the right to “go wide”.
      You also seem to think that having no 24 or 25 year old is a mistake. Is it something about those numbers as there is Zander (at 23) and Jonny (at 26).
      The most successful sides in RWC have an average age of 27 or 28 years old. Given that forwards tend to “peak” later than backs, I would suggest an average age of 29-30 for forwards is optimal – experience counting for more than youth in the front line.
      And I am not saying age is the key – just experience. I would be reticent including any player with less than 10 caps to his name, unless they have been in the starting lineup consistently in the run up. For instance, if Matt Fagerson plays on tour, starts two of the 4 autumn tests and then usurps Wilson or Barclay for a starting spot in the 6N 2019, then obviously he’ll be in the squad. BUT if he’s still on the fringes come next year then I’d take a grizzly Ryan or wiley JB any day.

      1. Also, Jonny Gray will be 25 not 26.

        Also also, Gray was younger in 2015 than Crosbie, Cummings, M Fagerson, Carmichael, Bradbury or Matt Smith will be in 2019. And he had zero starts for Scotland 18 months beforehand.

        The prize is there for them if they keep developing.

  17. Seems like a bit of an unimaginative selection to me. If the World Cup was this September then fine but since we’ve got 18 months you’d hope there would be a few newer names blooded.

    My picks:

    Loosehead: Sutherland, Dell, Bhatti – Reid is a stop-gap and Marfo needs to perform consistently for Edinburgh before he’s in. Sutherland is a bit of a wildcard but pre-injury he looked the most rounded prop we had – solid at set piece and destructive in the loose. Dell and Bhatti both great impact subs.

    Hooker – McInally, Brown, Ford – Agree here. Turner is a liability at the set piece at the moment but could easily leapfrog Ford by 2019.

    Tighthead: Nel, Fagerson, Berghan – No complaints.

    2nd Row: Gray, Gray, Toolis, Gilchrist, Cummings – Expect Cummings to overtake Swinson for Glasgow and Scotland next season. He’s bigger, faster, more dynamic and offers the same back row cover. Carmichael is similar but needs to bulk up a bit and could easily force his way into contention.

    Flanker: Barclay, Ritchie, Watson, Hardie – Enough experience here to justify the selection of Ritchie who gets better every time I see him.

    Number 8: Wilson, Bradbury – CdP is an awful choice – poor every time he’s played for Scotland – and Denton doesn’t suit the style we’re trying to play. Bradbury offers a far more dynamic option at 8. Fagerson and Ashe could force their way in here as well depending on which one is 1st choice for Glasgow next season. Haven’t seen enough of Hamilton to really comment.

    Ritchie, Bradbury, Cummings and M Fagerson should all be capped this summer to assess whether they’re realistic options.
    Also are they increasing the squad sizes for next year? Think it was only 31 in 2015

    1. If only 31 then Gilchrist and Hardie drop out. Ritchie and Barclay both offer 7 cover and Gilchrist probably got the least to his game of the second rows.

    2. I think Gav was picking on where they are now, rather than where they MIGHT be in 18 months. I, for one, would not pick Cummings over Swinson at the moment. Or Sutherland over Reid.

      1. Fair enough, I wouldn’t pick those two at the moment either.

        Does make it slightly less interesting though as the squad would essentially be the same as the one for the six nations

  18. As we can only name a 31 man squad we definitely won’t be bringing as many as 20 forwards to the world cup. I would imagine we will take around about 17 forwards and 14 backs so difficult decisions must be made. Unlike year’s in the past it is going to be difficult choosing who the best 31 men to take are as we have so many options but this would be who I would take;









    For me Bhatti is a better scrummager than Reid. Reid is a solid yet unspectacular scrummager who whilst being a stable influence in the scrum which means we concede few scrum penalties when he is on the pitch he never puts the oppositions pack under any sort of pressure. When Bhatti came on against; France, England, Ireland and Italy we actually won penalties during scrums and put the opposition under all sort of pressure plus Bhatti’s tackling and carrying is much superior to Reid’s so Bhatti without a doubt should be going ahead of Reid IMO.

  19. Bhatti will be in the squad all day long. Gordy Reids done well but Bhatti is the future.

    CDP – no chance he makes the squad. It will be Bradbury.

  20. If Blade Thompson rediscovers his form from 2014-16 he could be within a shout to go to the world-cup. Used to be a regular starter for the Hurricanes but ever since he dislocated his right shoulder, which required reconstructive shoulder surgery, in 2016 he has been a shadow of his former self.

    Had just 2 appearances for the Hurricanes in 2017 before his right shoulder popped out resulting in the end of his season and he has not started 1 game for the Hurricanes so far this season.

    Will get plenty of game time at the Scarlets and should he get back to his old self and is managed well could be the fast-athletic all-round experienced ball carrying number 8 Scotland have been crying out for

    1. Why are you suggesting Blade Thompson?, have you seen him play? would he choose Scotland? Is he good enough, or better than we allready have?
      In my opinion a non discussion until proven.

  21. Are people seriously saying Turner is a better player than Ford. Yes we’ve got no time for Nostalgia but nor do we have time for ridiculous stupid decisions made by the heart and not the head. Yes Ford was our most capped player in the worst period of Scottish and yes certain parts of his game are limited but he is a far better player than a 25 year-old who has played no more than 30 professional games who’s set piece play is incredibly poor and does not look good enough for Pro never mind international level rugby. Not that it really matters as unless both Brown and McInally get injured neither of them will be getting much game-time at the world-cup but still Ford may have his limitations be he is a whole sight better than Turner.

    1. bar his set scrum in what aspect is Ford better than Turner?
      Does he carry better? Does he get to the breakdown quicker? Does he pass or offload better? Is his lineout throw better? Does he hook the ball more cleanly?
      Is he less likely to be left flat footed as a speedster steps him? Is he more able to support backs in wide channels (as about hookers are required to do in the gameplan)?
      Is he a better leader?
      Genuinely interested to see your answers to each of those

      1. Turner is a lightweight with no brain – he was getting blown away in the loose before he got himself banned then injured.

      2. I don’t particularily rate Turner. I think he’s got the ability and can be a dynamic and thumping presence in the loose. However he’s got a lot to prove in the tight and also has deservedly gained a reputation as a bit of a loose cannon. We already have Fraser Brown at hooker who is a good player but liable to a clumsy brain fart.

        I think next season we will want to see a couple out of Fenton, Malcolm, Renwick and possibly the pick of the bunch for me Grant Stewart coming on strongly. Perhaps Cherry will do well too though I don’t know much about him.

  22. I think a lot could change between now and the World cup and a lot of it unforeseen. We’ve got a summer tour, autumn internationals, another six nations and likely some warm up matches before heading to Japan. Not to mention another Pro14 season and hopefully both Edinburgh and Glasgow in top tier European competition. I’d expect a few bolters, a few new long term injuries and a few surprises and that’s just the forwards. Does anyone think the scouts have someone else like Hardie that will materialise before the world cup?

  23. I think prop wise we will likely take 5 players.

    Fagerson is nailed on at tighthead. Which means that only one out of Nel and Berghan will go for me. And Berghan was not only outperforming Nel prior to the latters injury woes but he’s brought that form to the international stage so he gets the nod for me.

    On the loosehead side I think Bhatti and Dell will be first picks. Both just offer so much more in the loose than Reid who is a solid player at best and our game plan really benefits from props who can carry dynamically. If Sutherland discovers his best form then he could go ahead of Dell as he’s a top all rounder whereas Dell isn’t big enough to dominate in the tight. For me Marfo has a lot to prove. He’s had three (very) good games but that’s it. He hasn’t even impressed for Edinburgh yet. Should he come back from injury and carry on that form however then he could go alongside Bhatti who is the main man for me.

    Fifth and final prop will surely be McCallum. He’s an immense talent and importantly can play either side which will be vital for covering injuries and rotating players when it comes to playing the smaller sides.

  24. The trouble with this exam question is that we can convince ourselves that we have some strength in depth purely because we have widened our cap base on the back of a few injuries. I do think that toonie only has half a dozen forwards who are genuinely international class (not quite world class) and might be of interest to other international coaches and alot of players who need to prove themselves. The back row for me is a case in point – we have 2 world class openside Watson and Hardie, no number 8s and Barclay at blind so for me 3 places open and some credible candidates but no-one who Schmidt or Jones would fight us for…Strauss, Wilson, DD, CDP, Bradbury, Hamillton, Ashe, Fageson and even Smith or Blade Thompson – they have all got seats on plane to fight for – and they must fight for those places and in doing that they will improve … Second row is my worry … I am not sure how many of our group Schmidt would want.. all decent pros but not sure who would frighten Brodie Retallick if we get to the Quarters .. my hope is the example of Ireland’s James Ryan who has come through and performed so well at just 22 – there is time for the youngsters and that must be a better option than Swinson (interested how sq Voss does with Leicester).. loose head is also completely open though on tight head all 3 are decent. In summary I think we have Nel, Berghan,Fag, J Gray, Hardie, Watson, Wilson and plenty of room for late comers to make their mark! Go boys and lets make sure the Summer tour gives a chance for some talent to bloom!

  25. Thanks for all the feedback on the squad & its size. While I wrote this realising full well the squad was 31 at the 2015 RWC, injuries/suspensions meant Vern Cotter added to that.
    It’s merely my views on a potential squad & I fully appreciate the numbers may not be an accurate representation – glad to see the piece has sparked healthy debate

  26. My 20 forwards would be:

    Dell, Bhatti, Marfo, Nel, Berghan, Fagerson
    McInally, Brown, Turner
    R Gray, J Gray, Toolis, Gilchrist, Swinson
    Barclay, Hamilton, Bradbury, Wilson, Hardie, Watson

    If the number drops to 17, I would leave out Bhatti, Toolis and Hamilton. With the lesser number, Swinson’s ability to play in the back row will be needed and at least one of the props may be called to play either side.
    With reference to your squad Gav, I think we have seen the best of Ford and it would be a missed opportunity not to give a younger hooker World Cup experience alongside two quality players. I feel the same about Reid, despite the way he scrummaged during this Six Nations. I don’t think Denton offers enough and I prefer the physicality from 8 of Bradbury to the handling skills of Du Preez.

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