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Saturday’s forecast for the Stadio Artemio Franchi? Cloudy with a chance of “Meatball”

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

It’s been over four year since Duncan Weir started a Scotland match (v Ireland in the 2016 Six Nations Championship) but after both Finn Russell and Adam Hastings suffered injuries against Wales, the Cambuslang man is in pole position to be Scotland’s playmaker as they open their Autumn Nations Cup away to Italy, with the squad announcement tomorrow. (Wed 11th Nov)

Having been overlooked in matchday squads during Townsend’s reign – until a two minute cameo against France in this year’s Six Nations – some consider Weir’s style at odds with the expansive game favoured by Townsend, who also moved Weir on from Glasgow Warriors as Russell emerged.

“I’ve got a great relationship with Gregor. He’s always been open and honest with me.

“He’s developed the attacking side of my game over the last few years, and also just understanding the context of the game and making decisions. He was a 10 so he’s very good at explaining what he would do in certain situations.”  

After moving from the Warriors in 2016, an injury disrupted two years at Edinburgh – the first of which was combined with playing in a struggling capital side – saw Weir released by Richard Cockerill, and Weir now found himself surplus to requirements at both club and international level, with Adam Hastings having usurped him as Russell’s Scotland stand-in.

Weir moved back to “Warriors”, only this time those of Worcester, in the English Premiership and decided a new approach.

“In that first season at Worcester I felt that I was playing good rugby and that I’d cemented myself in the team. My goal going into each weekend was to enjoy myself, and on the back of that I was playing some good stuff.

“In the early days at Glasgow, I was always needing things done by the book. If I made a mistake I’d probably punish myself a bit too much and then I’d look at Finn and he’s almost horizontal at times. It’s a great trait to have and I’ve definitely learned a lot from Finn. Personally, I think he’s one of the best 10s in the world, so why wouldn’t you tap into that mindset?”

The tapping of Finn’s well has proven profitable. Toony called on Weir for the first time as the Six Nations loomed.

“I’m hugely passionate to play for my country. It’s been a rollercoaster ride the last three years, but I’d do it all again if it meant that I was pulling on the jersey, with my family and friends in the stands again at a sold out BT Murrayfield.”

The omens for his expected return to the starting XV are good. On his last visit to Italy in international colours, when Vern Cotter was at the helm, Weir famously slotted a match-winning drop-goal to sneak victory at the death in 2014.

“It was an unbelievable day. It’s my proudest day in the Scotland jersey by far.

“I had two coaching points, and myself and Hodgey (Duncan Hodge) had done had a couple of drop goals the day before during the team run. The coaching points were keep my head down and make sure I drop the ball well – that was it.

“I was very fortunate that I had a scrum-half in Chris Cusiter who delivered a bullet pass because the Italians were putting us under a great deal of pressure, so those split seconds I gained from his speed of pass were one of the key factors in making sure I could do my job.”

For Scottish fan’s jitters, hopefully Weir won’t be required to slot over a last-minute winner this weekend, but he showed ice in his veins that day. With his new laid back approach, it should be a doddle for Duncy if it comes to it again.

13 Responses

  1. Team for Italy
    In form players needing game-time

    Hogg-Maitland-Harris-Johnson-Van Der Merwe-Weir-Price-Du Preez-Watson-Ritchie-Skinner-Gray-Fagerson-Brown-Sutherland


  2. Have to start strongly, I’d go with

    Z Fagerson
    M Fagerson

  3. Team for Italy: Hogg, Maitland, Harris, Lang, Graham, Weir, Horne, Fagerson, Ritchie, Watson, Gray, Skinner, Fagerson, McInally, Sutherland
    Turner, Kebble, Nel, Toolis, Thompson, Steel, VDM, Kinghorn

  4. To avoid confusion as we approach game day, could I gently make a suggestion that people type ‘My team for Italy’ rather than ‘Team for Italy’? The latter comes across as if it has been announced and is official.

    1. Well it has been announced now….
      About as expected.
      +ves – Johnson at 12
      -ves- Horne not even on the bench again, feel very sorry for him as he has only done good things. Would rather have Maitland on the bench than Kinghorn.

      Other than that it’s as expected and a strong team – maybe Harris will convince me he should be playing this time….

  5. Jones can’t be on the bench, because Lang has to be as the only other player who regularly plays 10. Kinghorn neatly covers the positions Lang doesn’t. As has been said, hopefully Jones will get a start against someone over the next few games though.

    1. Although Jones actually covers more positions than Kinghorn does. Kinghorn covers the back 3 (and 10 at a push) Jones covers the centres and full back and Harris can shift to the wings when needed.

      That being said, Kinghorn Played very well vs Wales (and Jones didn’t have his finest performance vs Leinster last time out) and is probably deserving of his place.

  6. I like the selection and pleased to see DVDM start and Thomson retained but accept he is probably in last chance saloon. Expect to see Kinghorn on for Hogg. I also want to see Jones and Matt Fagerson start later in series. I suspect our forwards will be too strong and want to see some spark from our backs

  7. Good team. Feel Jones would have figured but Kinghorn covers both wing, FB and outside centre. Pleased that Thomson is retained. He has been playing very well for Scarlets. Very sensible dropping young Horne. He is too much like Price and our tighter game needs a good kicking scrum half. Hildago Clyne has been on form and deserves the call up. Pyrgos would have been better though. And Duncie is back. Magnificent. Again a kicking fly half suits our game plan. When you look at the players not starting, many not in the match squad, the depth in quality, particularly inn the forwards is pronounced.

    1. Horne is injured.

      Hildago-Clyne is far more like Price than Horne. None of them are like Pyrgos. None of the others are like Horne.
      Apart from that…………..

      in terms of how they play
      best control Pyrgos Price SHC (these days) and Horne
      in terms of most likely to break/make or score a try
      Horne, Price, SHC, Pyrgos
      Best pass to release backs
      Price, Pyrgo/Horne and a long way back SHC

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