Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Ireland v Scotland – The Player Ratings

Ireland v Scotland
© Scottish Rugby Blog

Another away game in the 6 Nations, and another Scotland defeat, but despite the scoreline plenty to be pleased with. Here is how the men in blue fared:

15. S.Hogg: Looked electric every time he was on the ball. One horror pass, and one missed touch aside, a very good performance – 7/10

14. B.Kinghorn: Excellent first start. Was stood up in defence for Stockdale’s second try (Visser, McGuigan et al would have done no better) but took his try very well and looked exciting – and comfortable – when he got some ball – 7/10

13. H.Jones: Oh that pass…sure to give him nightmares for years. Shackled well by Ringrose but still could have set up the try of the tournament. Shows how high the standards are now that this could be called a poor performance – 6/10

12. P.Horne: There are a couple more in the ‘horror pass’ gang, including the interception for Ireland’s first, but otherwise another decent showing. Its very evident the option what Horne gives in both attack and defence but the execution was not right. Might come under pressure from Dunbar for Italy – 5/10

11. S.Maitland: Looked very interested and was an early target for Ireland’s kicks but in general got no change out of Keith Earls (Booooo!) – 6/10

10. F.Russell: Composed, entertaining, probing. Worked well with Horne, Hogg and made the Irish defence work hard. Very solid performance – 7/10

9. G.Laidlaw: Bit of a return for ‘Captain Slow’ sadly, but the pace was not helped by Irish breakdown ‘dominance’ – 5/10

1. G.Reid: Scrum was solid but didn’t offer much in the loose. Might find himself back down the pecking order after this one – 5/10

2. S.McInally: It’s always said that the lineout is not the sole responsibility of the hooker. The question here is why it improved so much after McInally went off. Otherwise decent enough, but the lineout cost Scotland territory by the bucketload – 5/10

3. S.Berghan: A couple of big hits and solid in the scrum, but nothing else. WP Nel will regain the tighthead shirt next week I think – 5/10

4. G.Gilchrist: Worked hard, but ultimately overpowered by his Irish counterparts – 6/10

5. J.Gray: Tackled to a standstill, but couldn’t make a dent in the Irish defence – 6/10

6. J.Barclay: Made an absurd amount of tackles, but got little change out of Wayne Barnes over the ball – 7/10

7. H.Watson: Carried like a man possessed from minutes 1 to 80. Struggled to affect the breakdown but another decent performance from Pinball – 6/10

8. R.Wilson: Started well, but subbed off for Denton after taking a heavy head knock. Scotland missed his intensity level a little afterwards. Might struggle to be available for next week. – 6/10


16. F.Brown: The step up in lineout was surprising. The breakdown work was excellent. A solid 30 mins and a welcome return – 7/10

17. J.Bhatti: Continues his apprenticeship and has stood up well in every game. Carried well, links well with his backs and the scrum stayed stable which wasn’t a feature of his early appearances. – 6/10

18. WP Nel: Looked strong and healthy. Scrum was secure, but game was well gone by his arrival  – 6/10

19. T.Swinson: Mostly ineffectual. Lineout improved, but couldn’t stop the Irish tide by that point – 6/10

20. D.Denton: Loreal Thorsen (as my wife dubbed him) had a full 65 minutes. He was always a one trick, flat track bully and he continues to be this. He is not the answer at 8 in a Townsend gameplan – 6/10

21. A.Price: Game well gone by his arrival. Looked sharp though, and delivery was pinpoint – 6/10

22. N.Grigg: Plenty of rumble from the diminutive centre. Does offer a different approach but Ireland were furiously controlling the ball by the time he got on – 6/10

23. L.Jones: On briefly whilst Kinghorn had HIA.- N/A

SQUAD UPDATE: It has been announced today (Monday) that Scott Cummings, Matt Fagerson, Adam Hastings and Richie Vernon earn their first call-up of 2018, alongside returning Matt Scott, who was involved earlier this year. Magnus Bradbury, Cornell du Preez, John Hardie, Ben Toolis, Henry Pyrgos, Alex Dunbar and Mark Bennett drop out of the squad to return to their clubs.

106 Responses

  1. Arghh that was arguably more frustrating to watch than the wales game as we were actually in this game despite the scoreline.
    My Player Ratings would be:
    Reid 5: Not Great but also not bad
    McInally 7: Superb in open play but line out throwing was poor
    Berghan 6: One stupid penalty early on but good otherwise
    Gilchrist 6: Same as above
    Gray 7: Tackled well as always
    Barclay 7: Got through a lot of work but not so effective at the breakdown today
    Watson 8: Is he human?
    Denton 7: Lots of carries
    Laidlaw 6.5: Solid
    Russell 7.5: Not that involved but what he did do was great
    Maitland 8: His legs are back, he is looking superb
    Horne 2.5: I just don’t think he is up to being an international centre
    Jones 6: That pass!!!!, otherwise good
    Kinghorn 8: Showed he can do it at the highest level
    Hogg 7: Looks a tad slow but still had a good game.

  2. The scrum was pretty solid, particularly on our own ball and Townsend picked out Berghan – I thought he had a good game a few good carries too, 5 out of 10 compared to the other scores?

  3. A bit harsh on the forwards in my view. We were never going to dominate the Irish pack in Dublin but Lineout aside. They gave us a platform we could have won from. If only…

    If only our execution had been at our highest standards we would have taken Ireland to the wire. Don’t see any problem with personnel but maybe accuracy is lost when you see little ball and are under intense pressure.

    1. I agree, I thought the forwards were the equal of their opposite numbers. And I wouldn’t mark Barclay down too much for the breakdown stuff – Barnes was capricious af (did I use “af” correctly?). If Swinson was ineffectual and gets a 6/10, why do Gilchrist and Gray also get 6s?
      I don’t think Jones was any better or worse than Horne. Laidlaw was slow even when the ruck had been won and possession secured. I don’t know why, but it was an infuriating return to the Scotland of old.

      1. Laidlaw played for Clermont during the rest week – perhaps that had an impact?

        I thought in general Jones and Horne played pretty well, obvious costly mistakes notwithstanding.

        Blair Kinghorn looks like he could play anywhere in the back line and would look class. Maybe a future second 5/8 at inside centre?*

        *Personally I hate mad positional change theories like this but we play better with a distributor at 12 and Horne is the only inside centre we have that plays like that.

      2. What Dunbar, Taylor, Scott suddenly can’t distribute well enough to play inside centre??? Rubbish. Horne isn’t even first choice inside centre at Glasgow. And if you can’t recognise that Huw Jones is a better player than Horne then you’re watching a different sport altogether! :)

      3. NRS – you seem to have got hot under the collar about two things I didn’t say. First of all none of those other centres plays as a second 5/8. None have kicking games or are used to give long passes or run strike runners off. They are almost always used as a dummy runner or a strike runner themselves. Scott is an odd one as he actually played FH at youth level but converted first to 12 and now to 13. Never seen him ued in this way though.

        Secondly I never said that Jones isn’t a better player than Horne. Not sure where you’ve got that from – but he was also completely ill suited to 12 at this level as the Cardiff debacle showed.

      4. Thought the same re: Laidlaw…like he reverted to default. Back to his slow service..gave Ireland the time they needed to adjust.
        Looking forward to G Horne emerging…hands down the most talented SH we have on the conveyor belt.

    2. Horne is fundamentally a different style of player to Dunbar et al, so direct comparisons are tricky, but he offers much to the Scotland game and the way that Townsend wants the team to play. Alongside Russell, he’s obviously been told to go out and take risks with distribution and probe for space. He and FR then have to take the stick for some of the inevitable mistakes that arise. Scotland have (injuries aside) lots of options in the midfield but a player like Horne injects some of the creativity and unpredictability that seems to match the aspiration for this team. I am intrigued by the idea of Kinghorn playing a similar role at 12. He’s still young and talented enough to make a shift to almost anywhere in the backs.

      It’s going to take some time for the hard work on the training field to start to click consistently during games. The more the Scottish game of risk and reward is tested during Test matches, the more the players will get used to handling the pressure and the accuracy will begin to improve.
      By RWC I can see the scrum half roles flipping, with Price starting games to begin with the pace that GT wants and Laidlaw coming on from the bench to steer the team home.

      1. They’d be better sticking with Hastings (or I suppose Kinghorn) at 10 and moving Russell out to 12, somewhere he has played a decent amount. But I’d rather see Taylor in there personally.

  4. Gordon Reid – 5/10 He will be third choice after the Italy game as he will always be a 5 out of 10 player, does not offer a huge out amount outside a stable scrum at the international level. Time for Bhatti and Marfo to come in who can offer the same at scrum and alot in open play/Breakdown work.

    Mcinally – 6.5/10 – Scrum Good but Lineout Bad, he is world class in open play/breakdown and has good discipline. He will need to improve his lineout skills hugely if he wants to hold off Brown from the starting jersey leading up to the world cup though. Either way with those 2 and Ford/Turner we are in a very good position.

    Berghan – 5.5/10 – Kept the scrum up well and made a few carries but was nullified well by a tough Irish side for the most part. Very little between Him/Nel and Fagerson Currently.

    For Italy out of those people I would drop out Reid completely for Bhatti starting and Marfo on Bench.
    Mcinally and Berghan stay due to Excellent performances in the previous games and the fact that Brown/Nel/Fagerson are all back recently from Injury.

    1. I know I bang on about Berghan but to suggest there is very little between him and Nel/Fagerson is strange. Berghan has no real carrying game – but his biggest issue is he’s stupid. The pen he gave away was disgraceful, not only did it kill any pressure, he stood up and complained to Barnes it wasn’t him – but to compound it all he was half a sec from committing the same offence at the very next breakdown.

      1. The scrum was much better this year with berghan than last year with fagerson. Berghan is one of our most improved players, even d he isn’t the beast in the loose that fagerson is. Nel still top dog I think.

      2. When Fagerson actually learns to dominate scrummage at a high level …which he doesn’t….not get involved in handbags…. and focus not giving away daft penalties…he will be a great TH. He is short of that right now tho. Berghan has improved the scrum since taking that spot and looked more mature overall. Nel still best TH we have tho.

      3. Last year got ridden at 3 scrums v Ireland in round 1. Struggled in Paris. Switched out Dell for Reid and then had the upper hand v Wales. Scrum was one of the only things that went well v England. Finished up dominating Italy.

        Fagerson also put in huge performances in the scrum v Leicester, Racing, Munster, Saracens last year.

        It’ll be Nel and Fagerson for the big games at the RWC. McCallum may well have overtaken Berghan for club and country by that point.

      4. Berghan was outplaying Nel at Edinburgh even before the latters injury. He’s now established himself as an international level TH. Should stay there until someone is playing better.

  5. Grant Gilchrist 6/10 – His Weight and power in the Scrums helps a huge amount and goes unseen, lineout was not great. His catching and passing skillset is improving and he is becoming consistent after a run of games without Injury.

    Johnny Gray – 6/10 Is a defensive beast not alot else i can say.

    For Italy i would keep both of them in, in the longrun leading up to world cup though i predict a combo of Richie and Grant starting as it should improve our lineout and should not effect our scrum. I also believe Gray snr and Gilchrist offer alot more in open play and are similar to a whitelock/Retallick. they both need to step up their defensive duties slightly though for this to happen.

    Johnny would be a far better bench replacement over Toolis and Swinson and he also still has potentially 10-15 years worth of playing in him so their is no rush to bring him in until he improves the rest of his game.

    1. Im not sure what our best 4 & 5 combo is …if we had a Whitelock & Retallick or even similar..there would be no debate whatsoever.
      We don’t tho. J Gray is a good player, a test level player, but not anything greater than that..imo.
      There are better locks amongst the top teams….and when he comes up against them it shows. Very good tackle count…but offers little forward gain…once in a blue moon makes a break. R Gray should be a ball busting lock…but often plays like a fairy for guy his size. Gilchrist again is ok ..sometimes I dont even notice he is playing.
      Toolis is the most athletic lock we have…but is ‘a bit too soft’ for rugby imo….better at volleyball im sure.
      Cummings, Hunter-Hill, Carmicheal all looking to have more potential.

      1. The much vaunted English locks were overshadowed by J Gray 2 weeks ago.

        Folk need to take their Embra specs off – Gilchrist is the new ruck inspector general – Toner actually hit more rucks than him on Sat.

      2. I think one of Cummings or Carmichael will be our 4th choice lock come world cup time. Both look dynamic in the loose and are ahead of the curve for their age and could really start putting pressure on soon

  6. Revised Scotland squad is the Tombola in full swing squad-wise at least…

    Looks a bit like Cockers might have demanded some of his players back.

      1. Vernon has been brought in to hold tackle bags while Dunbar will be back into the Glasgow first team

      2. One constantly injured player swapped out for another constantly injured player….awesome news GT!

  7. Interesting add on at the end about the guys being dropped. I assume Dunbar and Bennett aren’t considered fit enough to get a game? What has Ben Toolis done, he’s gone from starting to being binned from the squad! He never really did much wrong IMO and might be more the kind of player we need to shore up the lineout.

    We need to give Italy the respect they deserve, now is not the time to experiment. Italy’s scores have not reflected their abilities, they are playing some good stuff from what I have seen and are usually scoring once or twice a game regardless of the opposition. Their problem is they can’t play for 80mins and are prone to a howler (as are we). We are capable of thumping them in the same way the others have but we need to (as much as I hate the phrase) do the basics well. Butchered lineouts, missed kicks and soft interception tries will just get their tails up which is dangerous in Rome.

    1. Toolis might be because Edinburgh have been playing without a replacement lock for a few games now.

      Edinburgh have Munster on Friday. Bennett, Bradbury, Du Preez and Hardie good players to have back for that too and may yet see WP, Marfo or Berghan join them I reckon.

  8. Well, we knew that Barcs and Watson wouldn’t have the same influence at the breakdown under Barnes watch. He is notorious for allowing the team in possession to hold on at the tackle preventing fair competition for the ball. They had twice the possession so were always going to score if they just kept it tight. Pete Horne seems to make at least one bad mistake per game. I would personally have a fit Scott or Dunbar (in that order) ahead of him. Denton works hard but seems to go to ground ridiculously quickly when tackled. Bradbury is the future and should be in that squad ahead of him

    1. Fagerson is twice the player Bradbury is. With Wilson still injured, I reckon Fagerson will get some game time off the bench, come World Cup he will certainly be starting number 8.

      1. He’s only 6ft 1 – his future IMO is at 6 – a ball carrying 6 is something we have needed for years.

      2. I think Crosbie is the best 6 we have coming through…he looks a cracking player.
        Fagerson reminds me more of that he can play 6,7,8 but nobody knows exactly what his best position is. Good player tho.

      3. Our back row options are going to be stacked over the next few years. The u20s players have all stepped up really well to pro level and are getting lots of game time already.

        Just at Edinburgh and Glasgow you’ve got:
        6 – Fagerson(19), Crosbie(20), Wynne(21)
        7 – Ritchie(21), Smith(21)
        8 – Bradbury(22), Ashe(24)

        All around the first team and playing consistently (maybe not Wynne so much). Watson’s only 26 as well. Great position for Scottish rugby to be in going forward

  9. For all those that want to scapegoat Horne for his couple of mistakes. At least he was in the position to butcher a try. His positional work and ability to read where the break is going to come is excellent. OK so his passing has let him down but that could be said of Hogg and Jones too (and Finn Russell and Ali Price in the first couple of games).
    Nobody seems to point out that his opposite number (Bundee Aki) was kept very quiet on Saturday.
    I think he deserves his chance to perform against Italy. Obviously one more big mistake and he becomes a liability, but at the moment our back line is making a bucketload of chances to score, and a lot of that is from Peter Horne’s industry and distribution.

    1. Agree on this. Aki looked ponderous throughout and big lads down our 10/12 channel doesn’t scare me any more.

      It’s a shame for Horne as you say, he made a glorious line break before cocking up the pass. I’ve love the intent with Horne at 12 over the last couple of games, and even though the execution hasnt always stuck, I think he’s fought his way to the front of the queue for 12.

    2. His defence was excellent, too – 95% tackle success rate. When he’s making as many tackles as the back row, that’s pretty damn good.

  10. So who will play 12 next week? Does Horne get another go after a some howlers (in both Ire and Eng games). With Dunbar gone from the squad. Scott seems the next best option as a ball player (he started as a 10 I recall) but he’s v short of game time. I wouldn’t be against Grigg starting either.

    One day we will get Hogg, Jones, Taylor and Russell on the field at the same time (which whichever wings you want) day.

    1. I suspect Horne will be given his chance against Italy; blunders (big ones) aside – he has and adds great potential and we need every player on the pitch of having the courage to be great.

      Horne must show he has learnt the tough lessons this time round though…

    2. That lot with any two of Maitland, Seymour and Visser would be my first choice. That as a back division should put fear in the hearts of any opposition. Horne and Kinghorn on the bench.

  11. Guys.
    Hey, guys.
    Kinghorn and Hogg can play together.

    Didn’t it just seem like the most Scottish thing ever that our best player of the next generation happened to play in the same position as our best player of the professional era? I was genuinely worried that it would mean Kinghorn wouldn’t get the exposure at the highest level, always living in the shadow of the great man. And while I respected Townsend trying to find another way, it seemed like a big ask for Kinghorn to just become a winger because there wasn’t space for him at 15.

    But man, Kinghorn and Hogg can play together. Kinghorn needs to improve a little defensively, but other than that, I really like him at wing, chasing down box kicks and cutting back inside with those strong lines of his.

    He’s strong, and will get stronger. He’s smart, and will get smarter. And best of all, he really complemented Hogg. They looked like they enjoyed playing together.

    Sure, we lost to a good Ireland side by more than we should have given the chances we made. But in the long term, we got the best news we possibly could have. Throw in Darcy Graham tearing it up at the Sevens, and in a couple of years our back three could be genuinely terrifying.


  12. Is Vernon going to be carrying the kicking tee ? He’s played no rugby to justify taking someone else’s place.
    It’s an unbelievably bad piece of selection / squad management based on – well, what ? Watch for #cronyism trending . . .

    1. I am assuming the guys called up are just to hold the tackle bags. There’s one match left and it’s a dead rubber what’s the point in holding onto the whole squad? They will do far more good back at their clubs.

  13. Based on these ratings, which I mostly agree with, I would make a few changes for the weekend.

    1. Bhatti
    2. McInally
    3. Nel
    4. Gilchrist
    5. J Gray
    6. Barclay
    7. Watson
    8. Denton
    9. Price
    10. Russell
    11. Maitland
    12. Scott
    13. Jones
    14. Kinghorn
    15. Hogg

    16. Brown, 17. Marfo, 18. Z Fagerson, 19. R Gray, 20. M Fagerson, 21. G Horne, 22. Hastings, 23. Grigg.

    As much as I don’t think we had a terrible performance against a very good Irish side, I think we should be blooding some developing talent whilst giving some players the opportunity to recover for what will be a tough end to the domestic season.

    Reid doesn’t do enough for me, Bhatti deserves his chance
    Nel just needs to start and Fagerson could cause mayhem after 60 minutes.
    Can’t see any way Ryan Wilson will have sufficiently recovered from that KO. Matt Fagerson is as good a shout as the rest for back row cover from the bench. Denton should be given the start.
    Price deserves another shot at starting and controlling the game, G Horne has earned a shot to show what he can do. Laidlaw done nothing wrong and might feel hard done by.
    Pete Horne needs to be taken out of the equation, let him process the game and come back better for it. He is a cracking player but a bit of a horror show, passing wise, on Saturday. Matt Scott coming in gives a different option in midfield.

    Hastings is our only genuine flyhalf backup and must be on the bench.

    1. Hastings is a long, long way from being ready and I say that as a Warriors fan. Not seen much so far to suggest he is the long term replacement for Russell at Scotstoun never mind internationally. I would put a couple of quid on Ihaia West rejoining Rennie next season – his Canes contract is only one year and he’s not going to oust B Barrett.

      1. If Hastings is a long way off and Horne is not really International class, who out there is next to be groomed for SO in the future for Scotland?

      2. Are you sure about Ihaia West being immediately SQ? He has represented the Maori’s and they don’t have much Scottish heritage in them

      3. Maitland played for Maori’s too. West’s mum is called Shona – not sure if that is all the rumours are based on though!

      4. I am sure I heard it a few years back that he had the chance but was a lot higher up the pecking order in New Zealand. I think his stock has dropped and he is behind Barrett, Sopoaga, Mo’unga, Hunt and McKenzie – but still probably good enough to make our squad. I’ll need to try and find a definitive source but I seem to remember a kiwi saying that there will be more scots playing against the Lions than for the Lions and West was one of them

  14. Utterly gobsmacked about RV’s call-up. The guy has barely played pro rugby since the World Cup. Surely he has no chance of making the 23, so why? Struggling to think of a decent answer to that question.

    1. The callups are as much about the pro teams as they are Scotland.

      That is surely the only explanation.

      1. GT has called up a number of players through the 6N from the ‘fringes’ that haven’t got near the matchday squad. RV isn’t alone in this – I’d be surprised if any of today’s call ups do.

        My suspicion is that it gives the younger guys a look at this level, and maybe for some of the other guys like RV, remind them they are not forgotten, some homework on what to do to get back near the squad and extra training to get sharp.

    2. There are always guys in the squad who are never going to play.

      I think Townsend prefers to have pros he knows who will willingly do whatever he asks them to help prepare the 23. It’s possibly better to have trusted guys like Harley, Pyrgos and Vernon to fill out the squad than younger players who will want to make an impression and probably won’t be as good at simulating opposition systems.

    3. Wouldn’t look too much into RV inclusion. He’s been training with and assisting the squad for a while I think. He was in one of the SRUs videos in the build up to Ireland.
      Its just exposure for the young players so they are more comfortable with the process down the line. They are no doubt seen as players for the summer tour tho.

    4. Looks like Toony’s releasing guys he wasn’t going to select back to Edinburgh to assist with their playoff push. RV is the only remaining Glasgow centre (with more than a few minutes game time at pro level) that Toony could call up. They’ll need the extra bodies to provide opposition in training. There’s probably 9/10 guys there who already know they won’t be flying out to Italy and another 5/6 who will only travel as cover.

  15. Don’t think there will be many changes next week (I hope not anyway). It was decent overall performance which tailed off as Ireland dominated the second half. Interception and a butchered try (a 14 point turnaround) by Scotland in the first half pretty much did it for Scotland. A couple of bad moments is all it can take in these away games. But chalk and cheese to the Wales horror show. I don’t think Barnes was as bad as he usually is. I would like to see Kinghorn against the Italians, I think he showed more than enough to give him a few games now. Our forwards struggled in the second half, we may look to freshen things up maybe, hopefully only one or two changes. Ratings seem fair enough to me.

  16. So, I still think that Hogg is being let off for Saturday’s game. What Jones solely at fault for ‘that pass’ or could Hogg have done better? Hogg at least twice cut back into traffic rather than give the ball to Maitland, and he overthrew his pass as well – hardly ‘a very good performance’. I’d rate him as a 6 from that match TBH (assuming that everyone starts at 5).

    This isn’t a ‘Hogg is gash, let’s get rid of him’ but Hogg sometimes stops the rest of team playing well, and his game against the Irish wasn’t one of his best.

    1. Des T : Brave but true, Jones fluffed the pass, Hogg was just a tad too far ahead to receive. As for the rest, absolutely true, it is a known issue within but no one wants to acknowledge it in the terraces. If we want to progress , it is not about one man albeit he was a beacon in a time of mediocre scottish rugby, that time is now over and we need to adapt.

      However on Saturday, Hogg was just quiet and others created and could not finish.Any mark will do, he was not to blame either.

  17. The call -ups today are most likely to give players who may well be involved in the summer, the autumn or the 2019 campaigns an advance taster of how Scotland train and prepare under Townsend, as suggested by Mark Palmer of the ST on Twitter earlier.

    There are likely to be few changes especially for players we haven’t seen yet in a matchday 23 this 6N. It also allows Toony to release players back to the pro-teams where they can be of far greater use than assisting the team to prepare. One change might have been Horne for Dunbar but that looks unlikely now…

  18. 5 for McInally and 7 for Fraser Brown? Seems like you would be quite happy to drop the form hooker in the 6 Nations….

    These player ratings are pretty Glasgow centric

    1. I think Brown edges it because the lineout was better when he came on. No significant difference in the scrum or the loose. If McInally improves his lineout throwing then he would be the form hooker in the 6 nations.

  19. I’d like to see a bit more of Hamilton in the Italy game, I think he looked good in the autumn. I’d possibly have rested Watson for Hardie as we don’t want him burnt out and it’d be good to see where hardie’s at after his suspension. Be good to see Richie get some game time. Looking forward to seeing more of Kinghorn (had him on a double with Parkes in the Wales game do properly delighted in his first try for Scotland!!)

    If we do manage to get on top early in Rome do we take key players off to safe them for the season run in? Hogg, Russell etc.

    1. I think we pick a team to win in Italy and we know this team can win. No changes unless forced.

    2. Glasgow have got room to manage the game time for the likes of Hogg and Russell. 2 weeks off after the 6 Nations (Zebre & European weekend) then 4 games in a row. If they finish top then it’s 2 weeks off then playoffs.

  20. Selection will be interesting. I reckon there will be some battered and fatigued bodies in the forwards, and there may well be good reasons for freshening up the pack a bit. You want to win – it would put a rather sour taste on the campaign to lose – but then again, you want some of the newer guys to add to their experience, too. As much as you can, you want a battle-hardened squad for the RWC. You don’t want, say, Hamilton to win his fifth cap in the QF. You want him to have 10+ caps by then. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a few changes – but not wholesale ones.

    1. I’d say we’ve already developed pretty good depth and experience within the squad heading into the World Cup. With a few exceptions, most of our young players will really start challenging for places after that competition. For now, we should be concentrating on giving our key players as much experience of playing together in Toony’s system as they can get. That way, come next year there’ll hopefully be less missed passes and lost lineouts.

  21. 1. Marfo
    2. Mcinally
    3. Nel
    4. J.Gray
    5. R.Gray
    6. Barclay
    7. Watson
    8. Hamilton
    9. Price
    10. Russell
    11. Maitland
    12. Jones
    13. Grigg
    14. Kinghorn
    15. Hogg
    16. Brown
    17. Bhatti
    18. Z.Fagerson
    19. Gilchrist
    20. Denton
    21. Laidlaw
    22. Bennett
    23. Seymour

    Went with partnerships with this one.
    Hamilton deserves a shot, assuming Wilson is out.
    Price deserves a shot as he can deliver quicker ball and has been on form since the wales game.
    Grigg deserves a start but you cannot drop Jones atm so he goes to 12, and im convinced he can play well their, ignore the Wales game that no one performed well in, they have played that 12/13 combo later on in game to good effect so reason it cannot happen from the start.

    1. You cant drop Jones but just put him in a position he’s already failed in. Great idea.

      1. Grigg is not really well suited to 12 either. Sam Johnson is much better there. When does he become eligible?

      2. I don’t see that Jones failed at 12. He was of the few players who performed against Wales. Had Harris outside him. Would be a different proposition with a player like Bennett had he not been sent home.

    2. My team for rome. 1 Bhatti 2 Brown 3 Berghan 4 R Gray 5Gilchrist6Barclay 7 Watson 8Denton 9Price 10Russell 11Maitland 12Horne 13Jones 14 Kinghorn 15Hogg subs Marfo Mcinally Nel J Gray M Fargerson Laidlaw Scott L Jones

      1. Jones was terrible in Cardiff and it had nothing to do with the 13 outside him. He’s not a 12, his distribution as we have seen is poor.

      2. He did alright at 12 in SA. And the issue in Cardiff was tactical and mental. If he’s gonna play at 12 for Scotland, though, it should probably be tried on a Summer tour rather than in the 6N.

      3. Most of his rugby in SA was in Currie Cup which isn’t the highest standard and nowhere near test rugby. He’s completely wasted at 12 – he doesn’t have the space to skin players on the outside, his passing isn’t particularly good and at 12 he’d usually be used as either a crash ball, a decoy or missed entirely. We want him with the ball in his hands, in the wide spaces with plenty of empty backfield ahead of him – then he absolutely terrifies defences.

  22. Sad to hear Hardie out of contract with Edinburgh, i really hope Glasgow sign him up as backrow has very little quality depth and he could challenge Gibbins for that starting spot.

    1. I think Hardie would be a good addition. I wonder if Gibbons could play 6? Hardie, Gibbons, Wilson is a pretty decent back row. With Harley, Smith and Fagerson as a second set.

      Before 6N I was convinced Glasgow needed a Strauss replacement (which Vunisa is not) but now not so sure.

      Presumably DTH is replacing Masaga.

      We have been quiet on the signings front otherwise. My thoughts are: top quality front rower or lock. With Gilchrist scrummaging with JG for Scotland, the scrum has stood up. Props deservedly get the credit but I have read a few times how important a ‘good scrummaging’ lock is. Cummings is getting bigger and looks good but still quite callow.

      Rennie has been quiet on the signings- hopefully a couple of great signings getting resolved behind the scenes!

    2. I’m sure Hardie will be on Rennie’s radar. Just depends on budget.
      Somebody will snap him up though – an out and out 7 of his quality is a rarity.

    3. Great to see him back and playing again, but don’t need him to ‘muddy the water’ at Glasgow. He should go for a big contract in England or France.

      1. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him replace Barclay at Scarlets. He’s not like-for-like, as he doesn’t play 8, but does many of the same things at the breakdown. It’s maybe a question of whether Wales want to have someone competing for a place at Scarlets that is NWQ, but could also be absent for AIs/6N/WC, given the current moves to repatriate some of their big-name players (1/2p, North, Moriarty etc).

      2. Rumour on a there site has linked Hardie to Newcastle, Bristol and Worcester (although think these are the usual suspects – Newcastle/Bristol would be a good result for us)

      3. Where Hardie ends up all depends on whether he still has a Scotland career – if he does his value is much diminished in Eng/Fra.

      4. Hasn’t stopped French and English clubs signing dozens of other internationals from Wales/Ireland/Scotland has it?

      5. I didn’t say it stops players being signed – I said it diminishes their value to the clubs.

  23. Wouldn’t be at all surprised if Hardie follows Cotter as he plucked him out of obscurity in the first place.

  24. My 23 for Italy

    1. Bhatti
    2. McInally
    3. Nel
    4. R.Gray
    5. J.Gray
    6. Barclay
    7. Watson
    8. Denton
    9. Price
    10. Russell
    11. Maitland
    12. Grigg
    13. Jones
    14. Kinghorn
    15. Hogg

    16. Brown
    17. Marfo
    18. Z.Fagerson
    19. Gilchrist
    20. M.Fagerson
    21. G.Horne
    22. Laidlaw
    23. Scott/Seymour/Jones

  25. Re Ihaia West – I’ve heard before he’s SQ, however he is pretty must the same size as George Horne & Greig Laidlaw (wee bit heavier).

    I’d assume Dunbar was released to get game time

    1. He looks incredibly skilful and rapid but for one reason or another his career flatlined at the blues and Piers Francis took his place under Umaga. Probably a player who’d be worth a punt at either Scottish pro-side but we shouldn’t assume he’d make the grade as a test match player.

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