Gregor Townsend has finally announced former Cardiff Blues head coach Danny Wilson as the forwards coach for next season. With the SRU able to agree terms with Wasps to release him from the deal that had been announced for him to work with Dai Young, it suggests that outgoing coach Dan McFarland may also be let out of his contract early to join Ulster as their head coach.
Wilson is not your typical forwards coach to look at but has the technical, detailed and forward-thinking approach that seems to be right up Townsend’s street and it will be interesting to see how Wilson influences a pack that has come on a good deal under McFarland. Wilson also masterminded the Cardiff Blues win over Edinburgh in the Challenge Cup knockout stages, so if there are weaknesses with the Edinburgh lads providing the core of the Scotland pack that he has identified, hopefully he can provide some improvements and I’m sure he will find an ally in Richard Cockerill.
The Scotland squad have arrived in Argentina for the final game of the season against Los Pumas, and Townsend has trimmed the player group down what he sees as the minimum required.
Those leaving the touring party are Glasgow Warriors trio Matt Fagerson, Ruaridh Jackson and Grant Stewart, Saracens centre Duncan Taylor and back-row Luke Hamilton, who sustained a shoulder injury in the loss against the USA. It’s been a long season for Jackson and is also unfortunate for Hamilton who would have liked to right some wrongs from the weekend, you imagine. It does hopefully improve the chance of seeing Huw Jones and Duncan Taylor in the same team at some point with them both on roughly parallel comeback trails now.
“It was always our intention to travel to Argentina with a reduced squad. The 28-man group travelling to Resistencia will now have the opportunity to bounce back from last night’s defeat with an improved performance.” Gregor Townsend
It could mean a chance for a first start on tour for Mark Bennett or another for James Lang – who impressed during the Canada game before going off with a head injury – or perhaps both, with Pete Horne probably the most likely candidate now to start at 10 given Jackson has gone home. Adam Hastings was far from awful against the USA and may well get a bench spot, but don’t be surprised if Toony shows faith in Chris Harris and Byron McGuigan at least one more time, or indeed even gives Hastings a start.
There are only 3 out and out back rows left in the squad so I’d expect some combination of Brown, Swinson and Carmichael (all of whom have played in the back row before) to cover those positions from the bench, and Grant Stewart heading home presumably means they have hopes of tour captain Stuart McInally making his first appearance.
Possible Scotland team to face Argentina: Hogg, Kinghorn, Bennett, Lang, Fife, P. Horne, G. Horne; Dell, McInally, Berghan, Toolis, Gilchrist, Bradbury, Ritchie, Denton.
Replacements: Brown, Bhatti, Fagerson, Swinson, Carmichael, Hidalgo-Clyne, Hastings, Grigg.