Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland team to face Wales

Scotland vs Wales
pic © Scottish Rugby Blog

KO 2.15 at BT Murrayfield
Saturday 9th March 2019

Live on BBC1

This team had the potential to go two ways, with a major reshuffle to reflect poor form or keeping the bulk of it intact to try and build confidence after a very poor showing in France, and rediscover that Toony masterplan that seems so elusive.

Injuries have played their part in the Six Nations this year but there has been some good news in recent weeks and WP Nel, Sam Skinner, Finn Russell and Hamish Watson were all names available to Gregor Townsend that were not two weeks ago (John Barclay and Duncan Taylor also attended camp this week but with limited participation).

Despite this, there are only 4 changes, most of them in the backline, including a first start for Darcy Graham.

There is one big change: plenty of PR photos of Ali Price in training meant there was always a possibility that Greig Laidlaw would move to the bench for this one. Price has a chequered history in this fixture but has tasted victory and in the absence of George Horne he’s the best current option for the “Greig can’t speed it up” brigade.

It leaves Scotland in search of a captain and a kicker, with Stuart McInally stepping up to the plate for the former and Finn Russell presumably taking over the latter (Kinghorn might also be an option).

The return of Wullie Nel is the only change to the pack.

Wales have left Biggar on the bench but otherwise, they’ve only made one change to the team that beat England, with Adam Beard coming in for the injured Jake Ball. Biggar turned them around against England in the second half, can Scotland avoid that happening to them this Saturday given how poor they’ve often been under high balls so far?

Fun fact: Kristian Dacey and Cory Hill are absent but the other four of Gatland’s Lions “Geography 6” all start, 2 per side. More in Part II of Kevin’s preview tomorrow.

Scotland: Blair Kinghorn, Tommy Seymour, Nick Grigg, Pete Horne, Darcy Graham, Finn Russell, Ali Price; Allan Dell, Stuart McInally (capt), WP Nel, Grant Gilchrist, Jonny Gray, Magnus Bradbury, Jamie Ritchie, Josh Strauss.
Replacements: Fraser Brown, Gordon Reid, Simon Berghan, Ben Toolis, Hamish Watson, Greig Laidlaw, Adam Hastings, Byron McGuigan.

Wales: Liam Williams, George North, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams, Gareth Anscombe, Gareth Davies; Rob Evans, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis, Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric, Ross Moriarty.
Replacements: Elliot Dee, Nicky Smith, Dillon Lewis, Jake Ball, Aaron Wainwright, Aled Davies, Dan Biggar, Owen Watkin.

Referee: Pascal Gauzere (FFR)

95 Responses

  1. Interesting changes – feel sorry for Johnson who has done nothing wrong, but when a Toonie favourite chaps at the door he’s in.

    Lets hope Price has a good day.

  2. I’m not seeing many points out of the Grigg Horne pairing against a well organised welsh defence. Very disappointing choice and a sure fire loss in the bag this one.

    1. Only alternative really is Johnson in for Horne, which I’m not sure makes any difference.

      All our ‘world-class’ 13s are injured: Jones, Taylor, Bennett.

      1. I’d rather Hastings at 12 than Russell at 12 but you lose Russell at 10. Don’t agree that is a good move at all at present/

  3. Horne and Grigg is a bit disappointing, Johnson has been playing really well.

    So, what’s t’he plan if Grigg gets injured or is having a bad day? Who is cover for 13?
    Options – Hastings,Russell,Horne,McGuigan,someone in the back 3……

  4. Interesting that GT’s stuck with Bradbury, Ritchie, Strauss in the back row with Hamish Watson on the bench. I think he really wants to see if Bradbury can step up with the World Cup approaching. No Z Fagerson in the squad. G Reid and McGuigan on the bench.

    Backs feel a bit slight to my mind, especially compared to how solid the Welsh are throughout their XV/23, but options are limited I guess. A firing Dunbar or Taylor would make a big difference to the look of the team.

    1. Bradbury has the capacity. Look how Ritchie has developed at this level with a string on games. It’s going to be an interesting battle at Edinburgh with the two of these guys battling for a starting spot as they have done through age grade. Mish and Big Bill are nailed on starters when fully fit. I’d like to see Strauss get pulled at the 50 minute mark to see what the balance of 6.Ritchie 7.Watson 8.Bradbury works. I can see Ritchie (22) and Bradbury (23) becoming our back row stalwarts at club and country if they can find a rhythm and a balance together.

  5. Very nervous about this team. Firstly, Wales have 300 more caps than we do in the starting XV. Secondly, Grigg hasn’t shown his club form at international level. Thirdly, the back row I had such hopes for ahead of Paris didn’t really do much, so it’s concerning to see that combo again. Fourthly, while I’m glad to see Toonie commit to a faster style, Price’s performance against Wales last year still haunts me. Fifthly, is Laidlaw an appropriate half-back partner for young Hastings? And, finally, Gatland having our number. Yes, we’ve been robbed a couple of times (2010, 2015 and 2016), but in general he has very little concern when it comes to playing Scotland.

    On the upside, I can see Graham doing some great stuff, and we’ve got some quality players, the question is will they click?

    It’ll be a major upset if we win.

    1. Got to agree, unfortunately. On paper, they’re a better side with better individuals in almost every position (debates to be had over Russell, McInally, Nel and one of our locks, plus Brown, Watson and Laidlaw on the bench).

      But…we’re at home and there is still a lot of talent in our team. If we get some momentum we can cause real damage, but Price and Russell will need to make great choices most of the time. If they can control field position and, crucially, if we can win all our own throws at the line-out and nick a couple of theirs (their line-out has been even worse than ours) then we’re in with a decent shout.

      As you say, the question is whether we’ll click. We can look magnificent when we do but the penalties and errors are shocking when we don’t.

      1. I don’t think the issue is that Wales have better players than us – I’m not sure they do, are there many you’d swap? – but that Gatland and his coaching team are very effective and the players are mentally stronger. And their team’s been much more stable in terms of selection.

      2. I’d add Liam Williams, George North and AWJ to that list.

        Cam, I’m taking all the factors you mention into account when I say that they’re better players. Playing in a settled, strong, experienced side with strong, consistent coaching (particularly Gatland and Shaun Edwards) that’s used to winning has made them into better players. Not saying some of our youngsters couldn’t be as good or perhaps better in the future (e.g. Kinghorn/D Graham/Ritchie/Bradbury) but they’re not there yet.

      3. I would have Rob Evans, Wyn Jones, Moriarty, Gareth Davies, J. Davies, North & Williams from that welsh side easily & some others would be alot of debate about.

      4. I don’t really agree with that either. Wales as a team are greater than the sum of their parts and they have been for some time. We haven’t been that for some time, we have good players in places but don’t achieve our full potential. England are a bit like us too in that with the talent they have they should be mighty but it doesn’t always click, when it does they are unstoppable as was the case a couple of years ago.

  6. Well, not too many surprise maybe.
    Still doesn’t fill me with confidence. A shame that Watson can’t start – he was one of the very few players I remember from the Wales/Scotland game last year who really made a positive impact – but I guess he’s coming back from injury and his fitness isn’t trusted 100%.

    The three-quarter line looks poor when you compare to what is coming at them. We don’t have settled and tested combinations, killed by the injury list.

    You can’t rule out Scotland getting it together and wining this, but I’d say on a cold clinical analysis of relative strengths/weaknesses it does not look likely? There’s a nasty feeling in the back of my mind that this could turn into a rout like 2005 if a few 50/50 things start to go wrong for Scotland and they panic and go into headless-chicken mode…. hope not.

    Wales aren’t world-beaters, but they are a very settled side right now, coming into this game with confidence off a run of wins. and hate Gatland as much as we like, he’s a canny coach. Their tactics against England were spot-on. We’ll put up a fight, but to use a pundit’s cliche… can’t help feeling that Wales will “find a way to win” Saturday.

  7. Grigg is an appalling option. All this rubbish about Johnson not playing at 13 is nonsense. What a wet uninspiring midfield we are starting with. The Welsh will be licking their lips. Dunbar Johnson or Horne Johnson has been a pairing for Warriors, when Jones was out for so long. Would love to be proved wrong, but every fan with more than a passing interest can see it is foolish and not international class. YES THAT’S RIGHT TO EVERYONE WHO HATES THAT PHRASE. THIS MIDFIELD IS NOT INTERNATIONAL STANDARD. AND WOULDN’T GET NEAR ANY OTHER TOP TIER NATION. SCOTLAND ARE CLEARLY CONTENT WITH BEING SECOND RATE. On current form, Johnson or Johnstone should have been in.

    1. You say it wouldn’t get near another international side, but if Wales or Ireland etc. were missing as many centres as we are, would their options really be better?

      1. Scotland’s options are better! Any two from: Horne, Johnson, Johnstone, Dunbar, McDowall, even Russell.

    2. Jeesus…

      Grigg has owned the 13 jersey at Glasgow for the last 2 seasons has been playing well.

      Johnson has 33 appearances for Glasgow in the pro 14. 2/33 have been at 13.

      Our other 13 options (Jones, Taylor) are injured & Bennett/Dunbar are both back from multiple long term injuries and have had very limited game time since.

      Johsntone has been playing well but you end up having to debut another another centre/centre pairing in a team that already is lacking experience and cohesion. Horne and Grigg have played 12/13 together plenty of times before and are familiar with each other which makes sense.

      1. maybe 2/33 starting, be surprised if that low, but there’s been switches during games and he’s bound to have run in training. classic case of over thinking it and being too close to the players. sometimes you just have to pick the better skill sets. and that includes size, handling and speed.

      2. That’s a slippery slope though. I believe Johnson is a better player but if you are picking 13 I’d pick Grigg…although he does need to have a good game.

        Johnstone and Johnson can feel hard done by and can’t imagine it was an easy decision…but to call this decision appalling and that ‘scotland are content at being second rate’ is bonkers.

      3. i don’t think it is. there’s no way a gatland or schmidt would make such a daft decision. if there was a dunbar or taylor inside him or even a johnson, maybe okayish. but alongside horne, there’s no spark in attack and vulnerable to big welsh runners. management has to stop handicapping the team. mcdowall has real potential rather than stop-gap. give him some experience, he’s tested with Johnson who
        has shown he has what it takes. france got on okay playing young talented untested players at home last weekend. suspect johnson could be out based on forthright comments to media

      4. scotland fling the ball endlessly wide. welsh run through the middle of scotland. the end.

      5. Romain NTamack has been getting starts for Stade since 2017 and is their starting inside centre, before that he would have been a full time pro in their espoirs league. McDowall has played 5x for Glasgow.
        I’d love to see McDowall play, but it would have been a serious bolter for Toonie to pick him for this game, even on the bench, and if it backfired?
        You’d all be on here Sunday morning ruining a young player, “should never play for Scotland again” etc. etc.
        Grigg is the right choice in these circumstances and you can wish and whine that others were available but they’re not, so you better hope he brings some of the Glasgow form he shows on Saturday.

      6. Would that be the sparkling form in the big games he’s shown against Scarlets in the pro 14 semi, Kings away, Saracens away or Edinburgh games?

      7. I would also say that the Glasgow centres have played against all the Welsh backs in the Pro14 and played well. I know that Wales combines the best of their regions but our backs shouldn’t have any fear going in to this game. As supporters we should be talking them up.

        More concerned about whether our game plan has evolved enough to combat their rush defense and forward dark arts?

      8. Actually think Grigg’s defensive qualities are solid, it’s his ability to look after the ball that got shown up in France. Agree all these guys are very familiar in beating these players in their day jobs. As passioanate as we all are one should take a step back and remember whatever your opinion of GT he has deeper technical rugby knowledge than me and dare I say most others on this blog. Otherwise we’d be coaching Scotland right? Maybe some should apply for the role. Certainly prefer that to my day job. See you all there Sat, weather looks like it might play a part.

    3. Can we please stop mentioning Dunbar – It is the closest you get to a binary de-validation of any point about the best centre combination !!! Absolutely make the argument about Johnstone or Johnson but not Dunbar for this game !!!

      1. ridiculous, he looked fine against Wales and Fiji. fine against Saracens. I’m as bemused as anyone by his move. if he’s injured so be it. but nothing says he is.

      2. I am loathe to seem rude, but I have to say that’s nonsense – he has been towing a caravan for the best part of 2 years and unquestionably was the 6th choice centre for Rennie, hence why he has gone to Newcastle (and bar one premiership game – in which they shipped 60 points to Northampton – cant make their 23). McDowell or Hutchinson (who played for Northampton in that game) are ahead of Dunbar who genuinely, if all other centres were fit today, would not even be in the top 10 IMO !! (Jones, Horne, Johnson, Johnstone, Grigg, McDowell, Dean, Bennett, Harris, Hutchinson, Taylor)

      3. Setting everything else aside Dunbar was on the injured list for Newcastle’s most recent game and hasn’t played a match since the 9th of February.

      4. I think Dunbar is potentially one of those players who can be out of form for club but still take the Scottish one & put out a good performance.

        Would still have him in my WC squad if Taylors injury run continues.

  8. Seems as though Grigg has slipped into the toony favourite category. Exceptionally harsh on Johnson who I think has been one of the bright lights of the tournament. I can’t see Horne and Grigg being able to utilise our exciting back three and can’t help thinking our only chance of scoring tries is from loose open play/poor kicks from them whereas I think they will have serious threats from set piece/structured attack.

    Surprising that Watson hasn’t gone straight back in but he will make an unreal impact sub. Hopefully Bradbury has blown away some cobwebs and has a decent game. I also thought that Skinner would have come back in considering our second rows have been uninspiring. I believe he calls the lineouts for Exeter too so he would have helped in that department.

    Good to see Price get a start with his pal Russell. They are both playing well and showing more maturity than the last time they started together, just hope they can keep their composure and don’t try to force things too early.

    1. Being realistic instead of knee jerk Nick Grigg is probably behind Jones, Taylor and Bennett and equal with Harris in the hierarchy, but they’re all injured/ on the comeback.

      How you conclude he’s a Toonie favourite is beyond me, who else would you pick?

      He’s decent for Glasgow, lets big him up and wish him well.

      1. Plenty of people are “decent” for their clubs, it doesn’t mean they should be starting for their country.

        As you said there are a lot of injured 13s but I would rather pick someone like JJ who, for me, has been playing better than Grigg and has infinitely more potential. I don’t think Grigg has had poor games by his standard at this level, it is more that he is just not up to this level. The fact that he started last week over Harris (who had been in the squad since the beginning) makes me think he is a toonie favourite.

        Of course I wish him all the best and hope he has a stormer, I just think we could have gone another way.

      2. Scotty who would you pick instead?

        McDowall? Very young, very raw, very callow. Could backfire badly and spoil a good prospect. A bolter selection might have been to have him on the bench.

        Johnstone? That’s a closer call, maybe, but Grigg has been in the set up for a while and has a couple of caps. Probably shows more continuity and direction to give him another go.

        Benett/ Taylor/ Jones – injured or on a managed comeback.

        Grigg was excellent in the Summer tour.
        Last week he was excellent in defence and so-so in attack.

        he’s worth another shot, would be harsh to drop him when the whole team played badly.

        He can do a job for us.

    2. As I said, I would rather pick Johnstone. He is playing very well for Edinburgh and has bags of potential. I appreciate that it would be a big ask for him to step up to this level but I think that it would be a worthy risk and supply him with some valuable experience ahead of the world cup which he has a decent chance of getting in the squad for.

      My main issue with the centre pairing is not really Grigg, it is more the lack of creativity and potential to get the ball to a potentially devastating back three.

      On a side note I am a bit surprised that Hastings and Horne are both in the squad…I always thought it would be one or the other. ie Finn gets injured, Horne can go to 10 and a centre sub can come on but what happens if Horne/Grigg gets injured? A return of the unproven Hastings/Russell axis or a winger to 13? Let’s hope both centres can stay on the field!

      1. I’d tend to disagree. Of all the centres we can field injured or not. Horne is and has been one of the most creative of the lot (not necessarily best overall mind before you lot lambast me). His supporting lines at club and country have been great (like his brother), he has an adaptive kicking game which is a great option for putting the defensive line on the back foot and he is a naturally clever player.
        Yes he has his deficiencies like the rest. But with personnel available I rate Horne and unquestionably would start him at 12 which is his best position anyway.
        I also agree with those people about Grigg that he deserves another chance, J Johnstone may be on slightly better form at club but its a 50:50 call between each of their club level form and grigg has both the international experience and knowledge of the 9,10,12 combo inside him which makes sense for Toonie to give him another go.
        Are they are best 12/13, no. Are they our best 12/13 with current injuries, maybe not. But when you factor in the other aspects. Having the two of them is an obvious decision rather than out of position player / too fresh unknown player at Test level.
        I for one think this will be a very tough game that we will be lucky to win, but the back line Toonie has chosen in my mind is the exact right one with his limitations and considerations to think about.

      2. I don’t get where all this lack of creativity chat is coming from? Horne is probably the most creative out of all our centres! Taylor if fit and on form is probably my no1 pick for his combination of solidity, creativity and handling. Grigg I don’t think is our best centre, I don’t think anyone thinks that but he’s the best we’ve got at the moment, he’s at least as good if not better than Harris. He tackled like a hero last week but was found seriously wanting with ball in hand (or not in hand more appropriatel).

        What has happened to Alex Dunbar? I have never seen anything official saying he’s injured. He was playing fine in the AIs perhaps not in the form of his life but doing ok. It all looks a bit John Barclay to me, all of a sudden isn’t getting picked for club or country for no apparent reason, what’s happening behind the scenes? Toonie already lost a class winger in Tim Visser…

        Just pray Taylor, Bennet and Jones are fit for the WC.

      3. I’d argue Horne might be one of the best options for unleashing our back three. If nothing else he can distribute (although I’d argue he also runs great lines and puts in a good defensive shift as well).

  9. Jeez, give it a rest.
    It’s a good selection imo considering all the injuries.
    The game hasn’t even kicked off yet, what kind of fans are you?
    Wales think they’re 10 feet tall, and that’s part of the reason they play like they’re 10 feet tall.
    We, by contrast, like to knock our players down to 6 inches before they even play…. that’s when we’re not predicting they’ll walk the championship.
    In fact, usually we predict they’ll walk the championship then after the 1st game cut them down to being 6 inches tall!
    What a hoot!
    No expectations but I’m looking forward to an exciting game and this is a decent selection considering s good few players are still out.

  10. To be fair to Grigg, I believe this is his first start at Murrayfield (where we tend to play well) so this is his real chance to deliver.

  11. I don’t think GT is convinced by any of the loose-heads ability to hold up the scrum. If the scrum starts going into reverse, expect big Gordon to be on early.
    I also love to see Grigg show the haters that they’re wrong. Jury still out for me, as it takes a few games for most centres to acclimatise to the international game.

    1. Our scrum is isn’t anything like as shakey as it was this time two years ago. We were very worried then. We’ve not been walking back for a long time now and certainly not this championship. We’ve been rock solid most of the time and given a few pens away but I can’t remember being walked back like we were in 2017. Scrum hasn’t been the issue this championship and shouldn’t be on Saturday.

      1. Agreed he has improved a lot and with Nel and Berghan and Reid to come on then I don’t see that being the issue. Somehow got to sort out turnover ball therefore scramble defence and lineouts (although Wales line-outs aren’t great either) Wales were very poor in both first matches and were gifted rather than took the France match.

        The English match was impressive but they are not unbeatable even though they have forgotten how to lose. We’ve yet to get the first try on the board this Six Nations in our early dominance which has happened in every single match and yet been the most threatening we’ve been in the matches at that point. I’d imagine we’ll be the same on Saturday. Just depends if we can actually reach the welsh defence. Hard yes impossible no.

  12. Poor Greig, he must take some responsibility for the continual slow ball these past few games. That said, the forwards need to step up big time, and take responsibility for delivering quick clean ball to the scrum-half.
    The shocking slow ponderous shift they put in for 80 mins against the French, must not be repeated. Forwards take note please.

    1. Whilst I have sympathy for Greig and the point you make, it really is an indictment on him that in game where your only chance to win in France was by moving their big forwards and using our superior fitness, was the number of times the ref said use it only for a box kick or a one out runner to hit an established defensive brick wall. Absolutely muddled tactics that he has to take some responsibility for.

  13. Will Bradbury and Ritchie be able to man up against Navidi and Tipuric ? Possibly the balancing point. I’d have liked someone who knows how to win games on at least one side for us.

    1. They have done so for Edinburgh… Navidi and Tipuric are excellent players, but so are our boys. I do think we fall into the trap of buying into the mythos around the Welsh players. Wales’ success is more due to Gatland and (especially) Edwards than a higher quality of player. Look at how those same players are performing for the regions…

  14. An out of form J Gray…picked ahead of an inform Toolis.
    A Nel who’s played about 40 mins of club rugby picked ahead of a fit Berghan and a fitter Fagerson …no Fagerson even in 23.
    A lightweight undersized centre partnership and no natural centre cover on the bench. Grigg? hasn’t looked international class and just seems to be there virtue of playing 13 for his club.
    Watson…our best 7 but can only play 7… on bench and played as much
    as Nel.
    Neither Strauss or Bradbury performed against France…yet a player in Gary Graham who did more in his 20 mins than they did for 80 doesn’t even make the 23. Ritchie totally deserves his spot and even on an off day does his jersey justice. Bradbury ok sure.. based on potential ..needs to really turn up this time…Strauss …hmm

    Undersized on the wings…Graham is a doubt. and making progress physically…but against big Welsh unit playing with confidence??…is this really the game to start him? Hope he is right up for it….coz he’ll need to be. He’ll either tear them a new one… or he’ll get bludgeoned.

    I guess GT has gone for strength and weight in the pack with height a lineout ability. Set piece obviously a target. Pace in the backs.

    Im glad Laidlaw isn’t starting…just doesn’t suit GTs style of play at all. We need to start moving away from using him to truly begin to play the game GT talks about. Price needs to mature now….kinda like Hogg needed to a few years back.

    Some selections not what I would have liked to have seen…..but regardless ….we have a chance. Wales are a good solid team and playing with confidence after the England match….however…they have only really looked good in that home game. They looked very beatable against both France and Italy….and I feel they are being a bit overhyped.
    We’ll need to play a bit better than even the ’17 match to win though….

    1. The back row is well covered. Ritchie can play 6 and Bradbury, Strauss can both cover 6 and 8, so having a specialist 7 on the bench is fine.

  15. We can win this game but it relies on us shoring up a few things from france.

    1. Lineout – Gray/Gilchrist/Mcinally need to be nailing that.

    2. Bradbury/Grigg firing on all cylinders, potentially 2 most destructive attacking players when in form.

    3. Having a balanced game – Gatland will have predicted we will be going full attack with Price being advertised to start, what needs to happen is for Price/Russell to add there kicking game management as they did against the ABs.

    Predicting Gilchrist/Bradbury & Graham to have outstanding games and be in contention for MoM if we win.

    1. I think at the core of it all…and kinda like Telfer was saying….our forward pack need to stop being Mr Nice. J Gray especially. Get that ball …however way they need to without giving a penalty… and create the pockets for the backs.
      If they do that ….we will win.
      If they don’t we will lose.

      Hoping that Price shows he has matured….and that Graham, Kinghorn and Bradbury show us their talent….if they do…it’ll be Wales that’ll be in for a tough day at the office not us.

  16. Dell weighed 112kg when he left school and was at the Sharks.

    He was 104kg when he arrived in Scotland and has bulked up to 106.2kg. Been impressed with his scrummaging and a real engine in the loose

    1. Dell, Ritchie, Russell, Johnson stepping it up have been only good things about this tournament.

  17. Graham against North , I hope Graham is good in the air, and plays the international of his life. Which probably won’t be difficult as he hasn’t played one yet. Still I hope that Townsend’s preparation for the 2023 world cup comes together.

  18. I think there’s a fair bit of over-reaction going on in here, Pete Horne is a good international 12 and has played in a number of games where Scotland have played very well indeed (yes the odd stinker too). He’s a good passer of the ball (except when he does the telegraphed double-pump loop pass) and not afraid to tackle. He’s certainly a better option at 12 than Adam Hastings is there, or indeed than he (PH) is at 10. Yes there are still question marks over Grigg but he can be class for Glasgow, Horne and Grigg have played together plenty of times there and most of the other choices are injured so you can see why Toony went that way.

    1. In fairness to Grigg i dont think he had a decent international 10 inside him on both his international appearances to date, 13 is arguably to hardest place to slot into and if its a new combination inside makes it so much harder.

      With Price/Russell inside him though there cant be excuses this time.

      1. Grigg played very well against Argentina outside Hastings.
        That’s what we want.

    2. Well said Rory. I basically said the same on an earlier thread before reaching your comment. I rate Horne. He has earned that jersey.

  19. Ffs negativity on here is thoroughly dispiriting, what are some of you on?
    Picking Johnstone instead of Grigg or Toolis instead of Gray or Fagerson instead of Berghan is not suddenly going to inject us with a dose of kryptonite and may affect continuity and affect more disruption- the last thing we need.

    Get behind the team and stop whinging and targeting individual players before a ball’s even been kicked.

    I would not want to play for some of you if I was a player, Jeez.

    1. No one asked for your misplaced empathy. This is a fans forum about a professional sport and it’s fair to question individual player decisions based on skills, performance and contrast with other nations. If Nick Grigg is on here reading about what some fans think about his selection rather than focusing on his game and what he’s been coached this week then there are bigger issues. Prove us wrong, but if that midfield gets us firing or is remotely error free I’d be stunned.

      1. Yes, its simply professional sport, hard to imagine a player would waste time at a fan site. The newspapers might interest them for other reasons, the Sydney Morning Herald might be of more interest to Scots players “Wallabies match-fixing investigation should be reopened, says official”.

      2. 1) selection of Nick Grigg is not a travesty or a howler as some seem to think. No other currently available player is an outstandingly better option.

        2) targeting him for extremely harsh criticism before a ball’s even been kicked is egregious.

        3) suggestion a pro rugby player shouldn’t surf the web because they’re a pro rugby player is moronic.

        4) of course sports people respond to supporters. And their negativity. Ridiculous to imagine they don’t.
        Scotland will need all help they can get on Saturday. They’ve got enough to make this tight and competitive and if they can do that then who knows?
        Try building them up for s change. They might reward you.

      3. I’d be very surprised if some of the Scotland players have not read this site.
        Stuff which starts on the web rarely stays there anyway.
        It’s all about the vibe and fans are negative vibe around the team will be negative.

  20. Just thought i would point out, Phil Burleigh started in that game where the Sunwolves beat the Chiefs away from home, pretty impressive.

    1. You suggesting we somehow parachute Phil Burleigh in in breach of his S-15 contract.

      Honestly, have a lie down.

      Phil Burleigh the playmaker in some pretty ordinary Embra teams. I think you’re toying with the limits if sanity now.

      1. I did not suggest that at all, i think you read to much into it.

        Just think he could be worth keeping an eye on if he shows good form.

        & obviously i agree it would be ridiculous to parachute any player in regardless of who they are 2 days before a match.

      2. Hey Johnny, I think most of us are just being a bit more realistic and expressing feelings no big deal really, it’s not going to affect the final score .

  21. I’d have still had McGuigan @ 13 & Graham @ 7 but there is something to be said for playing players in their proper positions.

    The key is to get on the front foot & get quick ball to Russell, the French got on the front foot early doors & a combination of their good play & our ineptitude didn’t allow us to get front foot ball.
    We had chances against the Irish but didn’t take them. We also were shell shocked after Hogg got assaulted.

    Scotland are easy to beat (however it takes a good well disciplined team to do it in Edinburgh) slow the ball, keep it tight, don’t give the flair guys space. (unless you are NZ).

    Big chance for a few of the maligned players to prove a few doubters wrong

    No Hogg is likely to be fatal to our hopes but all I ask is a ferocious effort & to get stuck right intae them

  22. For the forwards this feels a bit like give them a kick up the preverbial, tell them to sort it out and send them out again after the France performance. Some people may not make the plane to Japan if Saturday goes badly for them.

    Amongst the backs I think its a coin toss between Horne and Johnson as it is for Glasgow on the rare occasion they are both fit. After last year with Jones at 12 in Cardiff I don’t think Toonie is up for playing centres in positions they don’t regularly play for their clubs. Given the injuries I don’t think we have anyone else to start at 11, 13, 14 and 15.

    Dropping Laidlaw after his last 2 games was inevitable. Just hope Price doesn’t have another confidence busting game against Wales.

  23. It appears its Grigg’s turn for the ignorant ire of some posters – he’s the only fit 13 FFS – get a grip.

  24. I think we all need a decent dose of realism. In the six nations era Scotland have never had a team to consistently challenge for the title. The odd home win here or there to upset the odds – but generally they’ve just not been good enough. Too few stars, too little strength in depth. To challenge for the Six Nations championship the you need at least 4 wins, which means winning away from home and winning at home against at least one of England/Ireland/Wales/France. taking it as a given that teams can beat Italy most times. Scotland show no signs of being able to play well for enough game in a row to do this.

    Sorry – just being realistic.

    The team for Saturday is too thrown-together, too many players making up the numbers. Wales are stronger in most areas, not all….but too many. Is there an outside chance Scotland could win? yes, just highly unlikely. most likely outcome a Wales win by a score or two, but also a possibility of another hiding like last year. I guess we’ll see.

    1. Seven home wins in the six nations in a row is not the odd home win. That is pretty impressive by any teams standards. So 7 out of 8 at home is up there too. Its marred by terrible away form time after time which is both demoralising and infuriating given the home form. Very few of those away performances are close.

      This game is important in that we win then the home fortress is still very much there lose and we look pretty fragile all round. I think we become favourite for wooden spoon this year. But the whole outlook changes with a win. I’m not confident but it’s possible. Im holding out hope.

  25. This is Ali Prices big second chance. He had one against Wales last year and comprehensively blew it, we have stuck with Laidlaw more or less ever since despite him being fundamentally the wrong player for the type of game we are supposedly trying to play. Since then Price has been out of form but seems to be a bit better again recently. At least him and Russell should be able to keep the tight defence honest and create some space wide. I hope he has a blinder, I think the back row will need to step up by time though to give him decent ball to play with. Good luck Ali. Time for some others to step up to the leadership plate. Kicking shouldn’t be and issue, Horne, Russell and Hastings are all perfectly decent kickers, their percentages perhaps aren’t as good as Laidlaws but I would back any of them to land most kicks.

  26. A lot of pessimism being expressed on here tonight and while I’m not going to predict a Scotland win I think we are more than capable of giving Wales a fright.
    With regard to the team selection the forward pack have clearly been given the opportunity to go out and right the wrongs of Paris and have to take the game to Wales and try and get us going forward. You have to say Gary Graham is pretty unlucky to miss out (as is Sam Johnson)but I’m not sure if he offers anything different from the players in the 23.
    A lot of people concerned about the centres and I totally get that but that that at least gives us a 9/10/12/13 who know each other and have played together at club level so I get why Toony has gone with the players he has. Horne is more experienced than Johnson so again that makes sense in a pretty raw back line. There is hee haw point discussing the merits of H Jones, Taylor, Dunbar,Scott, Harris or Bennett over those selected as they are injured or in the case of Bennett just back. That just leaves James Johnstone who is a regular 13 or you play Sam Johnson or McDowall out of position! If we have another bad day at the office you would effectively be throwing one of these young guys under a bus and come Sunday we would all be lambasting GT for selecting a untried/uncapped combo in midfield. I think he has at least picked the best available in their preferred position which regardless of the result gives us a fighting chance.
    Here’s hoping wee Darcy has a stormer!

    1. There has been a lot of pessimism but I think a lot of people (myself included) had real optimism going into this tournament and it has gone a bit t1ts up.

      I doubt that many people, if given the choices tony had, would make many changes. I had a moan earlier in the thread about the centres but on reflection think it is the right call, although I think Sam Johnson is better than Horne, we always seem to play better when Horne starts at 12.

      The players know themselves that they have not performed anywhere near their potential and I really hope that they come out the blocks flying tomorrow. A slow lumbering start (especially from the forwards) will not be acceptable. Toony needs to channel his inner Jim Telfer and get the juices flowing!

  27. I never saw that side coming. Gats will be confused . The yr Alban bench is strong, I only hope Cymru are well ahead before they come on. I cannot help thinking Saturday will be hard day at the office for Yr Alban. May the best team win . Cymru am Byth.

    1. You’re right Daihard, your boys are strong favourites and I can see Wales winning by 15-20 points. If however, we’re still in the running in the final quarter, our bench could help steal it.

    2. Which other Scotland players should Townsend have picked Daihard?

      They’re all injured!

      I’m looking forward to a competitive game.

      Yes, Wales could walk it but it very much depends on mindset.

  28. I’m just glad Darcy Graham is getting a start, he should have been in since week one. Seymour has been a passenger. I’m glad Price is getting a run too. Everything else is just shuffling fit guys around to fill in for injured guys of a higher quality. The season’s shot but good luck lads.

  29. Blimey – there’s a lot of bile on the blog, not to mention bull.
    Pete Horne is a natural ball-playing 12 (which is why he can slot into 10, in a pinch). He takes the pressure off Finn, allowing the maestro to play with confidence. We’re not going to beat Wales by boshing it up the middle – we need our 10 and 12 to be able to see what’s on and bring in our strike runners.
    OK Grigg had a bad time in Paris, but he wasn’t the only one. He WAS the only one to make every tackle though, and being up against JD2 he needs to do that again. His form for Glasgow is enough for a second chance, IMO.
    Overall I’m loving the backline – it’s exciting and capable of teasing apart any defence, even without Hogg, Maitland, Huw Jones and the plethora of other centres.
    I’m surprised Hamish Watson isn’t starting but as the article says, Toonie is giving the pack a chance to rectify the wrongs of Paris.

  30. I understand the large amount of angst on the site but as others have said, realistically what else could have been done? Grigg (in a Scotland jersey) has previously been good in attack and weak in defence (he’s had a tendency to fly out of the line and create gaps). Two weeks ago he was solid in defence but poor in attack. Let’s hope tomorrow is the day it all comes together for him! BTW, is Harris injured or just not selected? Horne at 12 – he’s been berated every time he’s been selected at 12 and most of the time has done enough to silence his critics. Hopefully he has a good game tomorrow.

    Interesting comments above about the problems in Cardiff for Price and Russell stemming from the centres being out of place. That has been fixed this year so no excuses – time for the performance we all know (hope?!) they can give.

    Forwards really need to up the physicality levels. We know that Wales will bring a physical, confrontational game to Murrayfield and if we don’t stand up from the kick off they’ll get their confidence up and it could be a long and painful afternoon.

    We know Wales will play aggressive defence and be happy to soak up pressure expecting us to go from side to side before we cough up the ball. Cut the mistakes out, vary the attack, take out chances and we could catch them cold and build a lead. Cough up the ball as expected and we’re likely to be punished.

    I’m hoping the weather doesn’t ruin the game – rain would favour Wales I fear.

  31. Tomorrow is also an acid test for Townshend, i said on here recently i think he is a coach that can be too cautious at times ( re French game) and imo selects the wrong players, ignoring players bang in form. For this match James Johnstone at 13 and Gary Graham at 7 surely make sense and for heaven’s sake would a home debut for Johnstone be such a gamble? . I desperately want to be proved wrong and Grigg to have a cracking game.but I just worry about the Horne/Grigg combo. Come on lads show this worried Scot he doesn’t know what he’s talking about and I will be beaming with delight

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