Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Autumn Nations Cup Squad Update

Sam Hidalgo Clyne - pic © Al Ross
Sam Hidalgo Clyne - pic © Al Ross

In-form Exeter scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne has been named as the only new addition to Townsend’s original Scotland squad selected at the beginning of October.

Winger Sean Maitland returns to the squad having not been available to be selected for the Guinness Six Nations finale against Wales last weekend, which sees stand-in Ratu Tagive released back to Glasgow along with Rob Harley and Richie Gray.

Hidalgo-Clyne joins Exeter Chiefs teammates Stuart Hogg, Jonny Gray and Sam Skinner in the Scotland camp having helped his club win the European Rugby Champions Cup and the English Premiership double in the past few weeks. He’s down a Doddie Weir Cup in terms of personal trophy haul but this call up is no less reward for how he’s played since pitching up in the South West of England after a bit of time in the wilderness.

Standoffs Finn Russell and Adam Hastings both sustained injuries in historic win against Wales in Llanelli on Saturday and as a result will miss the Autumn Nations / Jeff Bezos Cup on account of groin and shoulder injuries respectively.

Hastings will require surgery and could be out for up to four months, while Russell’s groin injury can be managed through rest and rehab and he will return to the care of his club, Racing 92, with recovery time expected at around two months.

This leaves Duncan Weir as the sole dedicated 10 in Townsend’s squad and the likely front runner to play against Italy. Centre James Lang has covered and played there all season for Harlequins, and Hidalgo-Clyne himself has played ten in the past – including with Scott Steele as his half-back partner during their Merchiston days.

48 Responses

  1. Team for Italy

    Jones – Maitland – Grigg – Johnson – Kinghorn – Hogg – Steele – Fagerson – Ritchie – Skinner – Cummings – Gray – Fagerson – Mcinally – Kebble

    Graham – Weir – Price – Haining – Harley – Nel – Turner – Sutherland

    Hogg and Jones and Kinghorn can slot into that playmaker role at different times, i suspect that pack may be our most robust despite how good Watson is.

    1. Does Jones usually drop into a playmaker role? I would’ve thought distribution isn’t one of his biggest strengths. Surely we’d rather keep him out in space as much as possible

  2. I have to agree with your back row i think it looks seriously good.

    I’d like to see v Italy
    Keeble – Brown – Nel – Toolis – Cummings – Skinner – Ritchie – Fagerson – Price – Weir – DVDM – Johnson – Grigg – Graham – Maitland

    Bhatti – McInally – Fagerson – Harley – Cowan – Horne – Lang – Jones.

    I think this is the chance to rest Hogg, Gray, Sutherland and Watson.

  3. KebbleRamboBeganToolisGrayCowanWatsonThomsonSteeleWeirVdm JohnsonHarrisGrahamKinghornSubsAshmanBhattiNelCummingsRitchiePriceLangMaitland

  4. I’d be very surprised if we went anything less than 100% for this game, ie not dropping Hogg and Watson! Scotland have played very little rugby together lately and the matches they have played have not been ideal preparations – Georgia being poor opposition and the Wales game being very disjointed due to the weather.

    We’ll go full tilt at the Italians as a warm up for the France game. If we are winning comfortably then Hogg and co may get hooked but I’d be surprised if the team wasn’t (or very close to):
    Hogg, Graham, Harris, Johnson, VDM, weir, price, Thomson, Watson, Ritchie, Cummings, gray, Fagerson, brown, Sutherland.
    Mcinally, kebble, berghan, Toolis, CDP, Horne, Lang, maitland

    1. Absolutely, Scotty. The idea of “resting” some of our key players is frankly ridiculous. They are “resting” this weekend. Now is the chance to keep the same team for several weeks in a row, barring injuries.
      Real shame about Finn and Adam. To lose one flyhalf is bad – to lose two in the same game is disastrous. Hope wee Dunc gets the nod and he will slot in nicely, having had two weeks to prepare with Price and Lang. Which is why there won’t be wholesale changes elsewhere. Other than perhaps the bench.

      1. it’s not so much about where they’re at now more what’s coming up. You defo want your best guys vs Figi, France, and X,
        December is champions cup, christmas is 1872, January is European cup and then 6N.

        You’ve got real quality to replace them with who need game time so why not change a few out vs Italy. Not wholesale changes just a few key guys who have had a lot of big games recently. Townsend said he intends to use the squad so if not now, when?

  5. Agreed Merlot. Townsend needs to play his best. Good that Hildago Clyne is included. Price and G Horne are our first picks but for the quick expansive game. His kicking game would be a useful option as for that matter would be Pyrgos at some time in the future. He was Edinburgh captain last weekend and is playing well. Weir offers a great kicking option at 10 which again suits our new tighter game. But it’s important to build on strength and consistency so few changes to build on this new incredible defence. I’m optimistic about the future. But it will take time to marry our potent attack around this new system.

  6. The first priority against Italy is to WIN. However, I would be comfortable if 1 or 2 key players, such as Hogg & Gray, were rested. Pleased that Maitland is back in squad and would like to see DVDM start. I’m maybe in a minority but would also like to see Thompson get another start. I think he needs a run of games and has some key qualities such as good hands, securing re-starts and tail line-out jumper.

  7. Would like to see some other players from start alongside some of the incumbents:

    Kebble, McInnally, Fagerson, Gray, Skinner, Ritchie, Watson, Thomson
    Price, Lang, DVDM, Harris, Jones, Graham, Hogg
    Sutherland, Brown, Nel, Cummings, Haining, SHC, Johnson, Maitland

  8. Thinking outside the box, have they expedited Maitland coming back into the squad to give full back cover with the view of Hoggy to 10….? Has been debated to death over the years, although Hogg is quite capable of playing 10, his weapon is his broken field running, can’t use that so much at 10, stick to his strengths.

    1. More likely to see Maitland @ 15 to rest Hogg. Maitland is ideal person to defensively organise the inexperienced wingers, DVDM and Darcy. Must have recognised stand-off @10, eg Wee Dunc

  9. Townsend made it clear in an interview that he will play Weir and Lang as the first two options at 10 before Hogg.

    Our players don’t need rest they need game time and continuity with each other. (We will be able to afford a few players a a rest when playing Fiji if we beat France)

    Stuart Hogg – Sean Maitland – Chris Harris – Sam Johnson – Darcy Graham – Duncan Weir – Ali Price – Cornell Du Preez – Hamish Watson – Jamie Ritchie – Scott Cummings – Jonny Gray – Zander Fagerson – Fraser Brown – Rory Sutherland

    Duhan van Der Merwe – James Lang – Sam Hidalgo Clyne – Matt Fagerson – Sam Skinner – Simon Berghan – Stuart Mcinally – Oli Kebble

  10. Yep, likely to be Weir at 10 for the Italy game. However I don’t think that he’s the best choice. For me, Weir’s a decent club player but has had his chance in the international jersey and didn’t cut it. I’m aware that he’s fared better at Worcester but I worry that he’ll struggle against stronger sides such as France. For me, Hoggy would be a safer bet despite being out of his usual position. This won’t happen as it will seen to be too risky and Toonie will either stick with Weir (assuming we comfortably beat Italy) or change to Lang if Weir struggles.

    1. Agree with Merlow re resting & with DJB re Weir, how many times have I sat at Murrayfield being positive & thinking Weir will kick us into their 22 & utilise his kicking game to positive effect……..and been disappointed…… however glass half full how many times has Weir played behind as good a set of forwards as we have now?
      Hogg, Graham, Harris, Johnson, VDM, Weir, Price, Haining, Watson, Ritchie, Cummings, Gray, Fagerson, Brown, Sutherland
      Maitland, Lang, SHC, CDP, Toolis, Kebble, McInally, Berghan

  11. Hogg will not start at 10, ridiculous to think he could run a game at stand off better than Weir. It’s not mini/school rugby where you shuffle your best players around and they run riot whatever position they play.

    Weir is not flash but he will do the basics well and hopefully bring the rest of the backs into the game.

  12. Think Toonie will put his tombola away for this week. He has to reward the win in Wales so will stick with the same starting XV apart from the obvious injuries.
    McInally may start instead of Brown, as might Kebble. Will Berghan keep his bench spot?
    Bring in Skinner onto the bench alongside Haining or DuPreez. Harsh on Toolis but I think Gray, Cummings and Skinner are all better. Steele did nothing wrong and I think Toonie would want to see him play in his position for his second cap. With Lang, Hogg and Kinghorn on the pitch we need cover in the threequarters so Johnson & DVDM filling the bench.

  13. Agree with most of the people above. Stick with the same side as much as possible and maybe give others a chance off the bench. Scotland’s new mentality should be: Win test matches. Italy away is no pushover for us and would be a typical way for us to spoil our run before it really gets going.

  14. My team for Italy.

    1) Oli Kebble2) Stuart Mcinally 3) Zander Fagerson4) Jonny Gray5) Scott Cummings6) Jamie Ritchie7) Hamish Watson8) Matt Fagerson9) Ali Price10) Duncan Weir11) Duhan van Der Merwe 12) Sam Johnson 13) Chris Harris14) Sean Maitland15) Stuart Hogg16) Fraser Brown17) Rory utherland18) Willem Nel19) Sam Skinner20) Cornell Du Preez 21) Sam Hidalgo-Clyne22) Huw Jones23) Darcy Graham

    A few first choices on bench (Brown, Kebble, Graham) but 23 is pretty much all first choice, those starting are in good form.

    Matt Fagerson was Townsends first choice before injury so want to see what he offers.
    Hogg to cover 10 if Weir gets injured

    1. Graham, it’s against the law to post teams in this format nowadays,,,,, do like the look of that 23 tho

    2. Think we should have stronger- relatively speaking – for FH and therefore Lang needs to be in the 23 as the only real replacement option. Think Haining is worth a shout at 8, Fagerson maybe needs a bit more recovery (?) & would be good to give big H another shot. While Darcy is a normal first choice, maybe give him a rest.

  15. Remember Maitland still awaits a hearing. He could yet get a ban from authorities. Hope not but possible.

      1. Coronavirus is not controlled by the SRU or RFU. His actions were foolish. Many rugby people are impacted by this, be they patients, doctors, nurses, loved ones, some on lengthening waiting lists or those just making sacrifices daily.

      2. I think this will divide fans. Maitland and friends broke the rules and put themselves and others at risk. The consequences of this cancelled a game and that was costly. He wont be getting a pat on the back from anyone. I expect he will at the least get a slap in the wrist from the SRU , maybe more. Russell got a one game ban for , IMO less and how that ended is now history. I think the SRU will set an example and I for one , would be disappointed if they did not. If professional sportsmen get the privilidge of playing but do not follow the guidelines , who will. I expect differences of opinion on this comment.

      3. With reluctance , I agree with Buddy. The SRU might just let the dust settle before selecting Maitland again. He should keep his head down for now and it will blow over.

  16. I see no need to rest any of the players, most of them have played 2 games in 3 weeks (up till next Saturday). I was wondering if SHC or Horne may start for their attacking edge, given Weir will start. DVDM must start

    1. Still described by Warriors as unavailable injured. I think it is a leg muscle injury. However, he was pictured on a training bike in a recent Warriors charity publicity video. Maybe not too far away? We really could use him.

  17. Thanks NorthI127, I really rate Steyn he’d be in my 23 for Scotland……..big, physical, fast, nice hands

  18. So Wales defence coach has just been unceremoniously sacked. Anyone know how long we have Tandy contracted for?

    Originally he was brought in for 2020 6N, obviously he’s with us for longer. He’s been so integral to Scotland’s recovery from the world cup debacle it would be devastating to lose him now. Let’s hope Pivac doesn’t have his number.

    1. I was thinking the same thing when I saw the headline. With no sell out games at the Millenium lately I assume the WRU coffers are not exactly overflowing which hopefully means they are in less of a position to throw money at Tandy. Dodson needs to lock him in for 2-3 years if his deal is short term.

    1. It’s on Amazon Prime Video, which you get free if you have Amazon Prime. Some games are on Channel 4 but as far as I know none of the Scotland ones unless we make the final…

      1. 30 day free trial, here I come!
        I’ll have to watch it on the laptop but that’ll please the missus!

      2. Without wishing to become any more of a shill for the Bezos dollar it’s pretty good you can install the app on phone/tablet etc and will be a lot slicker than Premier Sports.

      3. Couple of points – Amazon Prime will allow casting to a TV. Also I have a stand alone blu ray player which has Netflix, but which I now discover also has a built in Amazon Prime player function. Worth a check.

      4. Most new tv’s from the last 5 years will also be able to install amazon video player. Any smart tv that has app’s should do it. If not, you can also run it from a lot of set top boxes, blu-ray players, games consoles etc. Or plug-in/mirror from your laptop/pc/tablet/phone.

  19. Does anyone know how long a contract Tandy has with the SRU? I wouldn’t be surprised if WRU is looking for a Pivac replacement before the end of the year. Can we lobby to get Tandy a better, longer term contract?

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion