Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Squad Update: Weir in, others out

Duncan Weir - pic © Al Ross
Duncan Weir - pic © Al Ross

Duncan Weir has been added to the Scotland squad to face Ireland, while a handful of players (including Finn Russell) will not travel to the training camp in Spain to prepare for the opening two rounds. The only injury-enforced absence is that of Darcy Graham who has hurt knee ligaments in training and is expected to miss the opening two games.

The ones who miss out on the trip to sunnier climes are Graham, Russell, Edinburgh prop Jamie Bhatti, Glasgow Warriors back-row Tom Gordon and Sale Sharks wing Byron McGuigan.

That leaves Sean Maitland and Ratu Tagive as the only out-and-out wingers in the training party although Blair Kinghorn is now likely to take the other spot beside Maitland and skipper Stuart Hogg in the starting XV. Expect a centre to show up there at some point before long.

66 Responses

  1. Wee Dunc has been added to the squad but Darcey expected to miss the first few rounds. Interestingly McGuigan (plus Bhatti and Gordon) are not travelling to the warm weather camp so looks like a bench spot for the surprise inclusion of the squad, Ratu Tagive, unless Harris is on the bench covering centre and back three

  2. Gutted about losing Graham! He’s been electric. But Kinghorn is a more than adequate cover

      1. Mcguigan playing for Sale. No way Tagive is in the 23, as you need a capable centre, unless Toony has decided no fly half cover at all is a good idea.

        Only viable combination is:

        Price/Horne @ 9/21
        Hastings/Weir @ 10/22
        2 centres (whichever combination) @ 12/13
        Maitland/Kinghorn @ 11/14
        Hogg @ 15
        Harris or Steyn or Jones @ 23

  3. Graham out now. Urghh! The odds of getting any success out of the Ireland match seem to be diminishing before a ball is kicked.
    Ive almost moved on to the next match already.

  4. Pretty despondent about the whole Russell affair and 6 nations. But. I have this weird feeling that Duncy Weir is going to step up and drop goal us to victory v Ireland!

    1. Lets hope so MK. I think Duncy Weir is underated and although not really the guy Scotland need to get their fast paced rugby going but I like him and great to see him involved (under mad circumstances) when I’m sure him and many others thought he;d played his last for Scotland. Who knows maybe Worcester has brought him into Buzz Lightyear territory and he’ll take us to the stars coming on and closing out the match as you say with a glorious run, pass or drop goal. We can but dream.

    1. I’ve never heard you so despondent and negative in all the time you’ve been posting on here FF!! Times must be bad! But yeah…I agree.

      1. Thank god the climate crisis will soon result in the collapse of civilisation and put us all out of our misery!

      2. Come on FF, you have already lived through the worst of it, Wooden Spoon’s, group stage exists, QF exits at the hands of Joubert, exclusion of favourite players , inclusion of left field average club players, the passing of a coaching legend , what more can possibly go wrong, it has got to be all up hill now. What is the worst that can happen ?We get a wooden spoon and Toony stays ! Everything else is a bonus. Enjoy the last week before kick off, the optimism, the hope that we just run out and play for the jersey.

  5. All of this is actually a perfect setup for us. Under pressure. Them against us. Zero expectations. I still think we have a decent chance. Hastings has been in good form and plays attacking rugby (and I think he’ll be underestimated by the Irish because he’s not Finn). Very disappointed with Darcy being out as he’s been electric. Slight concern on the lack of depth in the back three now, but 1st choice is good. But overall this is a perfect setup. No expectations. Nobody, absolutely nobody expects us to win in Ireland esp without Finn.

  6. Watching the Northampton v London Irish game, Blair Cowan could still do a job for Scotland. I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking he has been unfairly ignored over the past few years

    1. He played really well but who would you drop to make way for him?
      If there were injuries he could slot in maybe.

  7. We have a very good squad available to us. These comments about FR being irreplaceable are bollocks. We played Ireland less than 5 months ago with him on the pitch and got SFA. I’ve watched every Champions Cup game he’s played and yes, he can be sublime, but he also over-complicates and appears too nonchalant.
    There was no guarantee to his performance, so lets calm down and hope the other players in-camp are having strong words with the coaching team to emphasise which style of play will best suit the team. Personally, all this coaching seems too much, for me the players should be allowed to play what’s in front of them as and when.

    Likewise DG, fabulous but doesn’t mean there isn’t a decent player to fill the void. He would have been targeted for a bruising I’m sure. DW wont let us down either. He is a cool head.

    I just hope GT has the cahoonas to admit he got things wrong ( internally ) previously and plays the angriest and streetwise players up for a proper physical scrap. We do have them. Come on then, YFB….

      1. DW will be nowhere near the team and nor should he be.

        Darcy is a huge (sic) miss. Another stardust player gone.

        As for the others:
        – Jones. You know GT is gonna pick Harris instead.
        – Hogg will hopefully be ok as captain, but…

        As for this perfect set up for Scotland:
        – Ireland are in their own transition, but their best players, Larmour etc, are red hot. Meanwhile they’re stung from the WC and Farrell is no mug. Besides Scotland pack never manages to front up and Dell at LH will be going backwards.
        – Yep we are the underdogs, as we were in Japan too. As we always are. On a side note f. hate it every time that chippy backwards psychology is trotted out, such loser mentality, why have we adopted it as a nation.
        – Is there a possibility that kicking the playmaker out of the team causes the rest to rally round and lift their game. Yeah it’s a possibility, but much more likely GT’s clueless approach does not help and the dressing room is torn. How do his mates Price and Jones feel? Much much more likely his peerless ability is missed.

        This is away from home, against Ireland, with Toonie still in charge, deficiencies up front and Russell missing. It is going to be a pasting.

  8. I have a bobbinsy hypothesis about Russell and his peers: when the likes of Sexton and Farrell miss a game, it’s a shame for their team, because they are usually pretty good. When Russell misses a game, it’s a sad day for rugby, because you feel as though you may have missed out on a magical, captivating, one-of-a-kind performance. He just steals the show sometimes in a way that Sexton, Farrell and Biggar – good as they are – never could.

    Anyway, hoping Hastings has an absolute stonker and then wee Duncy comes on and commands the closing stages!

    1. That’s not a bad call Teamcam.
      He kinda personifies what this Scotland team is – flaky, bonkers, frustrating, sometimes brilliant and unpredictable.

      I thought it was notable that last season every French pundit picked him as their fly half of the 6N while I can’t think of one English one who did.

      The French have the culture that would embrace this mentality.

      I think we’ve just got to embrace it too. It seems to be what we are.

      If Finn didn’t turn up for training because he was pished then unfortunately he has to be sanctioned.
      I suspect he will come back into the team eventually and this will be forgotten.
      My only concern is that I hope this doesn’t indicate a problem. All the commenters who spend their time laying into players forget that while they are paid a lot of money and are privileged to play for their country, the flip side is that they’re very young men under constant pressure.

      1. Greenwood, English pundit, has literally just picked him as 10 of the Champions Cup this season. He has been consistently brilliant for years, which flakey performance are you referring to?

  9. The reason Weir’s not been near the squad is that he’s too slow. Weir had chances in the past & IMO failed. I haven’t seen Worcester play but with Solomons in charge its likely not an expansive style. Next Saturday I’d honestly have Hogg as back up 10. So its training @ 10 for Hoggy and loads of kicking practice for Kinghorn.

    1. How can you pass comment like that. I’ve never seen them play but I bet it’s….. They are a good side and play good rugby. He is in form every bit as much as Hastings just a different style of player. I’m delighted he is back on current form (and I was never a fan of his). Talking of players in blistering form. Blair Cowan is probably the form flanker in the premiership. He is top of the seasons tackle and turnover stats. Watching the Irish/Saints game last night the guy was immense. That kind of gritty and experienced character would have value in this young and based on 2019 soft squad. Not a starter but playing better than some of the back rows in there.

      1. I watched that game too.
        Agree about Cowan. He seemed to lift Irish.
        Saints would’ve won if they hadn’t had a red card tho.
        Hutchinson didn’t get the ball much but when he did you saw why he’s rated.
        He’s one of those players who looks like he’s got an extra second on the ball and he showed his pace by chasing down their winger to stop a score. Some of his kicking options both in attack and defence were outstanding and his distribution is top notch.

        I think he’s an inside centre – a real footballer and creator, although he easily has the pace to play outside.

        It would be a big risk to have him covering fly half but he has the skillset to do it if he got regular game time there.

      2. Yeah Hutch didn’t have much of a chance to get into it. Showed flashes. Boyd has Biggar playing much more creatively which opens it up for Hutchinson. Myler not so much as per last night. He certainly looks more like a traditional 12 but he needs a run there. He is not a ten

      3. There’s Hardie ,Cowan and so many others that are hard boiled that GT has over looked , GT has to go , you can’t just keep bringing kids through

    2. I dont agree John and have seen Weir this season. The Worcester fans love him. He is not carrying bulk any more , I had to look twice, has a great boot , more accurate than Finn or Hogg and has more length ( pardon the expression) than the pair of them. He is far from flawless, makes mistakes but he does many things well. If Duncan Weir is left alone to make decisons as he is at Worcester, we will be ok. I can see his predictability being a benefit to the playmakers. He is also a place kicker. Like another poster says , if we can get ahead, he could be key in keeping them away from the danger zone. This squad can still get 2 maybe 3 wins. It is never dull being a Scotland fan.

  10. Can we just stop reporting the daily misery that is the build up to this years doomed six nations, all positivity completely lost already.

  11. Hogg, Maitland, Hutchinson, Scott, Kinghorn, Hastings, Price, Dell, Brown, Nel, Gray, Toolis, Ritchie, Watson, Bradbury
    Subs: McInally, Sutherland, Fagerson, Cummings, Crosbie, Horne, Weir, Jones

    Team that I would pick for Ireland, NOT what I think will be picked.

    – Still think Johnson/Jones will be the starters in the centre. Hutch/Scott would be my pick – nice mix of power and guile. Think they’ll take a bit of the pressure off Hastings as well.
    – Similar thinking for Price over Horne. Little bit more experience and faster distribution.
    – Set piece will be key so Nel and Toolis start. Toolis particularly given the lack of proper line out jumper in the back row.
    – Bench is all about impact. Every one of those guys has the potential to come onto the pitch and raise the performance of those around them.

    Stating the obvious, this has not been the ideal run up to the 6N but there isn’t the need for complete doom and gloom. If that team plays to its potential, I reckon they are a match for anyone.

    1. I like that selection.
      Not 100% on Nel over Fagerson…Fagerson seems to be at a positive turning point in his game. Has more potential than Nel…Nel has the experience and a calmer head. Not sure a calm head is what we need in that spot tho….we need a ‘boss’
      Would really like to see Crosbie get a good crack at Ireland even from the bench. I doubt they’d enjoy playing against him…and we really need to be more aggressive and streetwise than we have been the last year. My ideal 678 is Crosbie, Ritchie, Bradbury…I think that is the future…Watson is a very good player..but he sometimes gets lost in matcha against big back rows.
      Johnson/Jones won’t work against Ireland imo…not enough dog there..a bit soft for a slugfest. GT has never seemed to rate Scott… doubt he’l throw him in as a start…despite arguably being the most inform.
      Price over Horne for experience… but only if Horne gets at least 30mins…if not more.
      Id give Sutherland a start ahead of Dell. Dell just seems to soft for a LH. Sutherland hasn’t done much to deserve a start…but we are woeful in that spot….lets see what he can do…maybe its what he needs.

      1. Lots of good points here.

        Main thinking behind Nel over Fagerson is that Nel’s temperament is better and he’s less likely to crack in the likelihood that the Irish scrum gets the upper hand. He’s a better player now but Fagerson’s meltdown against Georgia I the warm ups still counts against him. Also Nel’s impact of the bench would be far less than Fagerson’s.

        Hard agree on Crosbie, he’s dynamite. Watson is still out best back row imo though. Also the only one who’s been a consistent starter in the last 3/4 years.

        I’m still holding out hope for Scott. Townsend picked him for his first squad in 2017 and it’s easy to forget that Scott has been either injured, out of form or out of favour at his club ever since. Main thing counting against him at the moment is the lack of familiarity with the current set up.

    2. If form is the deciding factor it’s almost impossible to argue against Scott/Hutchinson at centre. That combo has real potential and should be tested properly for a run of games.

    3. All this doom and gloom, then I scroll down and read your squad, Tryhard, and realise ‘That’s a friggin superb team!’ Thank you for brightening my Sunday morning.

      Agree that GT probably won’t go with that centre pairing, but it’s one I would love to see – would really help mix things up in attack.

      Strangely I’m now actually sadder about DG being out than FR. Finn, by most accounts, made his own bed, but Darcy deserved the chance to set this tournament alight.

      Still, hoping the team prove the naysayers wrong – there’s few things more powerful in a coaches armoury than ‘They’ve all written us off lads…….’

  12. I’m with the optimists. OK, Finn is great, but we should have a plan anyway if, for example, he is injured. We have to be prepared to play without him, whatever the reason. There is a lot of talent in the squad, and if Steve Tandy and the senior players can sort our defence, no reason why we can’t win.

    1. Couple of big ifs there Gavin. What happened the last time Finn was injured? I’m not sure we won was it France with Peter Horne (Not all his fault)

      If Tandy can organise the defence. Yes hope he can but we’ve been hoping that for sometime and we’ve been waiting a long time not to lose a try in the first ten mins of a big test match. Hope the team and coaches can turn it around.

  13. Time the CEO earned his money and stepped into the GT-v-FR mess. The Scottish support have literally paid millions of pounds to the SRU and the statement issued is totally inadequate. A multi million pound business needs to step up and remember who it serves.

    1. I know nothing about the incident and cannot say what was justified but the SRU have standards and decided they needed to take action. I think a monetary penalty would have been better but a ban should have been 2 games ,as the break after England is the ideal time to reintroduce him.

      I think he should have been told to take a holiday , stay fit and show up on the 10th February.To ask him to train with the side and remain in camp is damaging for everyone.

      I think this is a most unfortunate situation for all concerned.

    2. Dodson is a polarising figure but you can’t deny he’s swelled the coffers.
      Gives us flexibility we wouldn’t have had a while back.

    3. I’ve seen this idea mentioned a few times and I hope everyone (Peter Wright included) is joking?

      Dodson could step in and force Toony’s hand I supposed but I’d be massively surprised if Finn wanted anything to do with the guy that sacked his dad, let alone trust him as a neutral party in all this.

  14. After a malt-fuelled Burns night, what better time to post thoughts on a possible 23?!?
    Dell, Brown, Nel
    Ritchie, Bradbury, Watson
    Price, Hastings,
    Scott, Jones
    Kinghorn, Hogg,Maitland
    Sutherland, McInally, Fagerson, Toolis, CdP/Haining, Horne, Weir, Hutchison
    Not sure why Toolis is often overlooked in favour of Gilchrist; former is stronger in the line out & never felt GG has offered as much as he should in the loose. I like the idea of Crosbie on the bench but if Bradbury goes off, does Crosbie have experience at 8? Hence a genuine 8 in the bench. Don’t mind Weir on bench; rediscovered his mojo while at Edinburgh & surprised they let him go but he has continued his form at Worcester & no-one else plays regularly at 10. Scott is the form 12 & Jones & Hutchinson to battle out 13 & bench. Can understand the temptation to go with Johnson but Scott offers more & can genuinely cover both centre spots. Back 3 picks itself though a bit exposed if one of them is injured. If Jones isn’t a viable cover option, maybe GT picks Steyn on bench to cover centre & wing but a bit of a compromise on both positions given the players currently on great form. Just hope the GT/FR mess is quickly resolved & Graham heals fast to give more selection dilemmas for Calcutta Cup. However, if our systems are sorted, cautiously/unreasonably optimistic about next Saturday. It will certainly be interesting.

  15. Any chance this incident works to bring the rest of the squad together to build a fortress mentality and fires them all to actually perform for 80mins? No, I can’t see that being in our make up either. Where are our Warburton or Wyn Jones type senior players to get a grip on the squad and get them fighting to show what they can do? I mentioned on another article, the Welsh in the run up to one of the RWC had a chat and decided to voluntarily put in place an alcohol ban. It was based on honesty but seemed to become competitive between the team. They’d realised they are professional athletes and wanted to give themselves every opportunity to achieve their potential. Why can’t our players have that attitude and approach? Why do we always seem to be celebrating before we’ve won anything. Or shooting our mouths off about “fastest brand of rugby”, “fittest team in the world”, etc. rather than doing our talking on the pitch.

    I’m struggling to find glimmers of hope… There are good players in our squad; now all we need is for them to play like a team. Toonie needs to get the tactics right. The players need to cut out the mistakes.

    Generally fed up with it all. Is it too soon to be saying, “next year it’ll be different” (although we all know it never is).

  16. Given Hastings is great with the boot, do we avoid going for the corner and concentrate on slotting over the 3 and keep the scoreboard clicking. For me a pragmatic game, play when it’s the right time, an Edinburgh type performance would be welcome

    1. Obviously yes. Even if your goal kicker is only average at it. Also on the alcohol, it’s nonsense that pro players are drinking in and around training camps. Sounds like it was only Russell but where were the leaders to stop him? Pretty galling to see Russell play yesterday in Paris. A failure in management/captaincy. Hogg is no captain, his interviews are painful to listen to. Cliche-ridden. He says he asked Toony for the captaincy, is that not trampling all over McInally?

      1. May I ask if the Hogg captaincy comment is on record anywhere. I would like to see that ? I may have misplaced my confidence in an earlier post when saying it can only get better.

      2. He says it in 2 interviews I saw, one on the SRU YouTube channel. The one posted on the same day the Russell thing blew up, with Hogg saying Russell is in the leadership group..LOL.

        Unless McInally had already been stood down It’d annoy me a team mate was asking to take over as captain.

        11/1 to finish bottom of the 6n table looks good to me.

    2. I completely disagree with your comments about Hogg at least from the media side, I thought he came across as comfortable, honest and enthusiastic. As for asking for the captaincy I think that’s a fantastic attitude. Much rather have someone put their hand up and say “me, I want that duty, I want that responsibility.” its good to see he name checked Richie as part of the leadership group already. We’ll see how he does on the pitch but as far as media goes he’s far and away the most natural option for the moment.

  17. Put Tagive in the 23!
    Go on!
    We’ve brought him in and Darcy’s out. When else will we get a chance to see what he can do?
    I think he’s good and a bit different from our other players too.
    More aggressive and direct.

    Ok – I accept this might be a bit bonkers even for Toonie but every time he’s played for Glasgow he’s made something happen.
    What do others think?

  18. Scotland camp seems to be becoming a bit of a toxic place in general without the Barclays and Laidlaws to keep things in check. Steve Tandy will doubtless be experiencing a bit of déjà vu from his time in Swansea. It seems like the camp might be splitting a little – judging from English’s BBC article as well as Ali Price joking with Finn Russell on Twitter – and this is at a time when the players are supposed to be learning a new defensive system…

    1. This is the Toony and Hoggy show now. Hopefully captain Hogg has reigned in his ego as there were plenty flashes of it in the past. No room for someone like Russell eclipsing them. I have a bad feeling about this 6n. I think we’re struggling for 1 win and can see it unraveling after what feels like very likely losses in the first 2.

      1. At least if it does unravel GT and team are gone by summer. Assuming the situation is unchanged, I won’t quite be cheering Ireland but really who wants a victory if that prolongs the regime…

      2. It does feel like the team is losing a bit of the values which Vern has implemented into the team which had them really fighting for each other with a great team culture, There was passion then that i don’t feel the team and a lot of the fans have any longer under Townsend.

        We actually have a fantastic team of players, just need to select the right squad and give them more lease the run the game.

        Losing Finn really is a devastating blow, i know Hastings will do a decent job and hold his own in the Jersey.. But Russell is arguably the form 10 in
        the world right now, certainly top 3, Scotland really cant afford to be losing players over this kind of stuff.

      3. Feeling among supporters becoming toxic too.
        You can’t have players doing what Finn did, no matter how good they are. The players would lose all respect for management.
        SRU PR management of the issue possibly not great but they’re trying to balance flow of info to supporters and press with not stoking the situation anymore so Finn and Gregor have a chance to settle this and he can come back in later.

        This kind of stuff happens in other squads. England have had multiple issues with Tuilagi for example.

        Scotland just need to go for it. We don’t have the well of confidence that would allow other teams to brush something like this off but the reality is that a decade ago we would have fallen over ourselves for a fly half like Adam Hastings and Duncan Weir has come on and can do a Dan Biggar job for us.

        Just go for it.

      4. Neil – we don’t really have a fantastic team of players. We have a mediocre test pack and a very good set of backs. Maybe they can develop and grow; I certainly hope they can be better than the sum of their parts but every Scotland coach starts with the same problem – they have virtually no choice in personnel because there are so few players good enough to play test rugby who are qualified for Scotland. I’d bet no 6N coach except Franco Smith would swap their squad for ours.

      5. Personally I think we didn’t need another developmental 6N. Nevertheless it’s a fairly developmental squad that’s been picked so why not go all in and allow Hastings a run at 10 in the 6N intensity, there’s certainly opportunity in that. Also great as Russell is, if he’s being shoe horned into playing a system that he doesn’t believe in then he’s not going to be able to perform at his best and its better to have every one on the same page. So if Hastings understands and executes what GT wants then the overall product could be better.

  19. Adam Hastings has certainly improved this season. He is maturing no doubt. There have been displays earlier in the season where his game management skills were concerning with many on his back questioning his ability. BUT. His recent games have been stronger. I just hope he has a stronger belief in himself and can be assertive. Adam’s assertiveness is the jigsaw moment. If he is surrounded by defenders closing down his options in a horse shoe manner we’re in danger. In the past Adams dilly dallied in these moments and he has become lost and stunted. If this becomes the case I have great belief that a pumped up pack will retaliate and push back. Moments in the Samoa and Japan game show this. Do others here have faith in the pack as I do. I believe if the boys fight with fire from the off the other teams will be in for some hard times during this 6 nations. COME ON SCOTLAND!

    1. I’m somewhat unsure about our pack. I agree with the obsevations that during the 1872 games the Glasgows pack, had the edge despite being lighter. they were hitting rucks and carries harder, faster and with more collective intent and coordination than the Edinburgh boys who were sort of relying on individuals. I think the Glasgow pack is playing near it’s full potential where as I still think the Edinburgh boys are only at 80% of what they could do. The Edinburgh boys that will most likely form the Scotland back row are bigger and more powerful individually but they will need the speed, intensity and collective coordination that the Glasgow backs have shown to compete with the Irish pack who I believe are the best in the world technically in this area. If they can do that we’re in with a chance.

  20. I have been told that the recent bonusses for the CEO and side-kicks will be almost insignificant to what they will get with the new media deal. 15% or more of a very healthy £30m-£40m windfall and there is no way they are going to move on before that lands. I get the distinct feeling with all of this and the new proposed “changes” that the domestic game is nothing more than an irritant within the corridors of power at BT Murrayfield.

    1. If that is true it is utterly shameful and we need a whistleblower to show the courage to make these details public before it is too late.

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