Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Podcast – Episode 228 – Problems at No. 10

In this weeks episode, John is joined by Craig and Jonny to review the Scotland squad announcement

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The Scottish Rugby Podcast brings you the best in informal chat and discussion about Scottish Rugby. Each week during the season we put out a 40 minute podcast suitable for all listeners, covering all the latest news and key analysis of the big matches. 

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93 Responses

  1. Overall a good squad selection when considering form and availability.

    I’m 50/50 on the Russell omission …He does possess an X factor…but he has not been in great form and always has lacked consistency. His perceived lack of professionalism has always been there throughout his career. On his day a great player…but whether that compensates for all the other negatives?.. I’m not sure he is a player that benefits Scotland both on and off the field moving forward.

    That said…Hutchinson me getting more raw a deal. Not sure what more he can do at club level to get a consistent chance at international level.

    Hopefully R Gray helps our atrocious line out play this year combined with a hooker than can actually throw a ball.

    Ritchie is the right call for captain…hands down the most natural leader in the squad.

    Will be interesting to see if Dempsey’s club form translates to playing against tier 1 international rugby sides.

    1. We should have no concerns over Dempsey. He is already and International Rugby standard. Finn, well inevitable really, his contract is up soon and being dropped will not help his negotiation. just one more anchor to unload.

    2. This first one doesn’t really reflect the balance of comments or opinion does it? Just about everyone disgusted by the ongoing joke that is GT.

      If anyone else had been Scotland coach at the start of this cycle – we’d have focussed on two interchangeable players so far as possible at 9, 10, 12.

      10 should be Russell and Hastings.

      Instead he’s cast them both into the wilderness at random points: along with variously – Horne, Bennett, Scott, Hutchinson, Jones, Maitland, Taylor. Frankly pick the best backline from there.

      You can read all the manuals you want – take up as many sports science degrees at the age of thirty – doesn’t stop you being a massive bellend.

      At least as coach he’s being consistent and showing himself to be a utility tw*t – screws up the relationships in the pack, half backs and backline alike.

      Oh well onto the next cycle absent the talent and this generation. Can’t do any f worse!

      1. I don’t think there has been any suggestion that Townsend plans to retire from the head coach role after this WC is the problem. It is entirely possible we will have GT not just for this generation of players… but the next generation also.

      2. Neil – I primarily come on here for the light hearted relief your XVs provide from every day life, am now fully depressed.

  2. I like Blair Kinghorn but you cannot hide what he’s got and what he’s not got. In space and broken play he can be brilliant, he has a break and lovely range of passes, however his kicking (from hand and place) is ropey and when pressured by a disciplined defence he has demonstrated little to suggest he can make the difference against the top teams.
    GT is obviously stubborn and Russell has upset him, no Lang or Dean is surprising too

  3. If i was Finn Russell i’d be retiring from International Rugby at this point, no sense in dealing with Toonys nonsense.

    Form is the ‘issue’ but he has been in good form for Racing. Certainly better than Kinghorn who i think has been caught out on many occaisions this season now that the top defences have worked him out, i’m yet to see him provide an answer.

    Also, Ross Thompson? When was the last time he played a full 80, one for the future sure, but he is going to struggle to get back the starting Glasgow Jersey never mind Scotland.
    No one can claim that Thompson is in better form than Russell (besides Townsend)

    1. I just wish that the SRU would ‘retire’ Toony from the Scotland job.

      In one breath, he deems that Finn needs to find form but in the next one includes several players who are either just back from injury (e.g. Ollie Smith – good player but anyone who saw him play for the Ayrshire Bulls a couple of weeks ago will tell you that he’s still on the recovery curve), are struggling to get a game for their club (e.g. Ross Thompson), or have been tried and found wanting at Test level (e.g. Jonny Gray – makes his tackles but offers nothing as a ball carrier).

      Any hope I have of the SRU handing Toony his jotters is, of course, of the forlorn variety. I have no doubt that he’ll lead us into RWC23 and become the first coach to lead Scotland to consecutive group stage exits.

  4. I’m probably focusing on too narrow an objective, but I’d really like to see us assemble a 23 that after the first two AIs gives us a real chance of beating New Zealand for the first time in our history. We are still the only Tier 1 team that’s never beaten them. It would be great to get that monkey off our back.

  5. People really are blind when it comes to Russell, we don’t appreciate how good he is and it’s going to be a massive void when he’s gone (he’s also been kicking goal for Racing). GT is a massive something right now. I’d have him tarred, feathered and exiled for good. Unbelievably depressing, why can’t we just pick the best players for their positions. W*nker.

  6. What is wrong with Townsend. He is a prize tit. FInn should be pivot for the team. Next stop 6 nations and WC

    Are we that good to knock out Ireland and SA without him? Honestly what is the issue GT has with Finn

    No hutch either?

    1. But we do have a Hogg.

      Come to think of it , when Finn came on in the third test even the English Commentators were in appreciation.

  7. re Russell – could the rumours of his going to Japan be true, thus virtually putting a kibosh on his international career.

    If the case , still think Hastings is a much better bet at 10

    1. Will Finn get paid megabucks for going to Japan. I think he will. Has he made it in France unlike many before him, he has a better offer to claim. He will have plenty of time to hand around in Scotland when he is yesterdays man. There are other talents coming through , mind you , Kinghorn is not one of them .

  8. Looks like GT had other rationale for dropping Finn, though I don’t get leaving out a regular first choice for one of Europe’s best teams and instead picking two relatively inexperienced 10’s, one of whom can’t kick or defend and the other is incredibly short of game time. I can see Finn signing for a big wad of yen and saluting Toonie with his middle finger. Seen that McDowall in the squad, not sure what he adds over Lang but could well be picked vs Aus due to lack of alternatives; Tuipulotu is better at 13 but then we’re looking at the Toonie Tombola. A number of first and even second choices unavailable in the back line against Aus and fear we just won’t get the ball out to our dangerous wingers. Given that BK is going to start at 10, Smith the likely FB choice (unless it’s Hoyland) so can see a fair number of high balls to test him out. Maybe we should play off 9, with VdM and Graham coming in off the wings to cut through, bit like Laidlaw’s great match against Argentina a few years ago. Better hoover behind the sofa as well be spending more time there than sat on it next Saturday.

  9. Feck.

    Utterly fed up with Toonie. We have a talented squad but it makes no sense to exclude one of our most important players when we have no one who even comes close to his ability.

    1. FF: and not for the first time either. It would appear he has never had an easy relationship with Finn, I make no judgement , relatioinships are two way.

      Come to think of did he not tell Hastings to stay at home and improve something trivial before! I think he did , drop Hastings as well.

      What is it with Toonie and the 10 Jersey.

      1. It’s just so erratic. Toonie seemed to back Russell for the Lions, who excluded Sexton (probably the best NH fly half over the last decade). Sure Russell was poor last 6N but he sat out the summer tour and now is the time to reintegrate him back into the squad. We’re playing NZ for the first time in years and we’ve decided to do it with one hand tied behind our back.

        In any case, Fiji have picked a very strong squad. There are no gimmes – I can see this series going v badly wrong.

    2. I couldn’t agree more. Also he appears really negative and uncommunicative in interviews We have an opportunity here. The worst thing even if he has a poor autumn he won’t be given the bullet

  10. This is just a moment in time. Finn will go on and probably/ hopefully take that big offer in Japan, come back and publish his memoirs. He is having a very successful career despite the challenges. It is his story to tell and frankly, any book by Finn Russell , will outsell anything Tonnie decides to write.

    What bothers me is the messages all this sends to for example Lang and Hutchinson in particular. Dropped for a guy who has 1 cap, been injured for a year at least and plays for the Premiership survivors. Why does Toonie continually chase the end of the rainbow and spoil what he has already done.

    You know , it is not the first time. We saw Duncan Taylor , play in the RWC , with a leg strapped like an Egyptian mummy, we know how that ended. Why will this be any better !

    1. Duncan Taylor looked like he was towing a brick, er, outhouse at RWC 19.

      Quite why Toony chose to play him was – and remains – incomprehensible.

      We didn’t know it then, but it was the shape of things to come. And they’re still coming.

      1. Well.. at the time…D Taylor was perceived as our best center…but he had just come back from serious injury and I remember thinking at the time ‘great!…a fit and healthy Taylor will be important. That ,however, was blindly assuming the coaches had thoroughly assessed his fitness levels and he was ready to play.

        He was, however, completely out of shape and should never have been in the squad..let alone the 1st team.

      2. Thing is Taylor had another cracking season for Saracens the NEXT season when fit, but couldn’t get a look in at international level due to the grudge: YOU let ME down.

        Of c by the time we were embarrassed by the Blossoms it was actually the inspirational Johnson Harris combo.

        The real shame of that tournament was going into the Ireland game apparently undercooked for Ireland’s physicality – didn’t Stander make about a million metres, and this was a regular Munster / Leinster demolition job on flakey Scottish outfit – as it hadn’t happened about a thousand times in advance. Who saw that coming? *face plant

        We left Ritchie out that side too right?

        Maybe if hadn’t been mucking around with centres selection up to the wire?

        Coach who could not summon any fight from his players (three points) then should never have been given another chance 👎

        Really it’s not GT’s fault – you can’t blame a donkey for being a donkey, he doesn’t mean to be a donkey. But Dodson et all have had numerous chances to wield the axe. For someone with such a fearsome reputation it’s uncanny that the Scottish teams of his (Dodson) era are characterised by being utterly wet!

        And here we are on the eve of a major tournament, uncertain selection, end of a generation. It’s so predictably meek.

        At least GT has probably watched a few Man City games – maybe Haaland can do a job at 10?

  11. yeah I agree, what finn is being told now is basically the same message given to hutchinson for the last 4 years, go away and work on some vague improvements, aka i don’t like you and i don’t rate you. just being consistently the best player in your position in your league over an extended period doesn’t meet the criteria of form and errr consistancy. It will be very interesting to see what will happen if one of the 10’s get injured will he bring in Russell or hutch.

    The irony is there are ways this could have been framed that i could’ve understood. If he’d said we needed two home based 10’s for the australia game and so only had room for one foreign based 10 so it was a straight shoot out between Finn and Hastings and we wanted to reward Hastings good form that would’ve made some sense.

    1. Bit worried about the Australia game. No English based players or Russell. The Glasgow game has been cancelled in S. Africa as the squad is sick. Presumably Kinghorn will start at 10 with Thomson on the bench.

  12. I don’t read a single word of complaint about Hogg not being appointed the captain. Now what would really suit me is he is appointed to the bench for some games and we try someone else..

      1. Hogg was a good captain. Arguably our best player and no lack of passion for the job.

        Lots of us have thought that Ritchie was long term captain in waiting. At 6 he’s closer to the centre of action and just needs to focus on his own penalty count and relationship with referees. Arguably he was the key difference we missed that saw our results slide in the last 6 nations after he was injured.

      2. I dont agree with you big Al. Hogg was a lack lustre captain, he was never suited to the role, in temperament or style. You can captain from 15, oh yes you can. Gavin Hastings probably the best 15 we ever had and Andy Irvine both did it. Hastings captained not only Scotland but the British Lions, and at a time when there was no end of competition. His side won the series. In fact he captained every team he ever played in.

        What is the difference between Hastings and Hogg! He led by example, he was a professional in the time where the game was not. Hogg is a professional and respected player however lacks the presence of a captain. I suspect he always knew that within himself and will be relived to relinquish the role.

        For what it is worth , I think Richie will need to mature into role as a captain, he may just be too emotional at times, in the early stages. Good captains do their talking with refs off the pitch.

      3. Spot on right. Hastings was the epitome of professional. We have a few generations of fans who have never known what it means to represent this country. Scottish Rugby needs to go back to the future, to a time when the jersey was for the brave, the proud, and was worn with dignity.

      4. We need to stop issuing them like 2 for 1 pizza vouchers, to the latest flash in the pan.

  13. Team for All Blacks

    Stuart Hogg – Darcy Graham – Mark Bennett – Cameron Redpath – Duhan Van Der Merwe – Adam Hastings – George Horne – Matt Fagerson – Luke Crosbie – Jamie Ritchie – Sam Skinner – Scott Cummings – Zander Fagerson – Ewan Ashman – Pierre Schoeman

    Blair Kinghorn – Ben White – Jack Dempsey – Hamish Watson – Grant Gilchrist – Willem Nel – Rory Sutherland – Dave Cherry

      1. Because the only other option in the Squad is Bhatti, who has the highest penalty count in the URC out of all the teams (according to URC stats website)

      2. Sutherland is at Worcester, not played all season and was pants on the lions tour. Long way back.Get a grip man, do not be swayed by the border bias in here.

      1. Frankly I would rather have Weir than Kinghorn at 10, and Jaco VDW for that matter. Dan Parks coming out of retirement even.

      2. Weir wears his heart on his sleeve. You know you get his best. Kinghorn, a second string full back at best with a maturing best by date on his back. Only Townsend could play a mannequin at 10 and think he has the next best thing on the pitch.

    1. Wishful thinking but this is not a team Townsend would select. Blair K and Chris H are his favourites.

  14. Here’s one for you Neil, a team of players townsend doesn’t rate.
    1. Oli Keeble, 2. Johnny Mathews, 3. Murray McCallum, 4 Cameron Henderson, 5 Callum Hunter-Hill, 6, Dylan Richardson, 7 Tom Gordon, 8 Blade Thompson, 9 George Horne, 10 Finn Russell, 11 Cole Forbes, 12 Matt Scott, 13 Rory Hutchinson, 14 Kyle Steyn, 15 Huw Jones.

      1. He turned away Edinburgh’s all time try scorer Tim Visser as well. I think he needed to change the way he laced his boots up. Perhaps it is time to run an article of Gregor Townsend knock back reasons.

      1. Finn: Welcome care to share on recent events? By the way Sam :Huw Jones is injured and why does Toonie not like him? I agree he doesnt , but why ? Come on Finn, spill the beans, give us an exclusive!

      2. I know but Horne has a longer history of being ignored by GT either included but no game time or overlooked completely.

      3. It’s difficult to know why Bass. In fairness Jones has had a few injuries, struggled for game time, switched positions etc but unlike Harris or Kinghorn he has to prove himself again in club rugby and then wait his turn.
        In general modern coaches all seem to have forgotten what McGeechan knew, that some players are just test match animals. Some guys like Russell and Jones just switch on in the big games not the training pitch. Modern coaches seem to take this as an insult to their latest amazing training drill or tabletop scenario. imagine finishing your contracted hours and just going home and having a life of your own. Johnny Wilkinson wouldn’t do that!! terrible attitude, damaging to our team ethos.
        I think GT is terrible culture coach. He’s read all the books and can probably make a great 2hr powerpoint on it but has no feel or personality for it so guys like Russell and Jones aren’t going to enjoy being in his environments, they’ll do it cos it’s their job but it’s not fun. Townsend’s failure to create a culture that includes these guys is a major failure of his management and probably comes from his own insecurity about his authority.

    1. Forget the AIs, we should return to the days of the Probables v. the Possibles and have a match between Toony’s XV and your XV.

      We’d have to find new names for the teams, though.

      Hmmm. How about The Favoured v. The Outcasts?

  15. Is McInally injured ? By far our best hooker IMO. Or has he not brought the coach his newspaper in the morning or something?

      1. 1.8T they has went into hiding until they have finished producing a sequel to we’ll still enjoy the sake

        They are unlikely to be back before the world cup.

  16. Clearly Gregor has other reasons than form for not selecting Russell. For whatever reason he’s fibbing us on the truth. It’s amazing he has the audacity to clearly be dishonest on this whole situation. Honesty goes a long way to getting peoples support even if it’s not what they want to hear. If it is personal between the two then he could say as much without elaborating. Like watching politics.

    I like Ritchie’s appointment as captain. The dropping of Hutchinson and Bradbury I don’t.

    If Gregor persists in playing players out of position I’m going to loose it.

    Would like to have seen MacCallum included as he’s been on a good run.

    Some of Gregor’s decisions seem unreal given his experience.

    1. You are overthinking this. Toony knows best you know. He doesn’t need to tell us, because then, we would be as wise as him. But what is this attitude masking I wonder.

      The only think that stops him being a great coach is himself.

      I do not think he likes powerful characters with opinions or immature attitudes on and off the pitch, I can see his point if I am being honest.

      IMO his flaw is he thinks he can win the game from the sidelines. He wants a team of robots. But they are people and they are flawed as much as they are talented. I just wish he would pick a forever squad and build their confidence rather obsessive tinkering.

      1. I dread them coming back from the Scotland camp. They are either physically worn out or mentally confused. They just seem to have lost their spark. Do you think they could be disillusioned!

  17. Pretty frustrated with the whole Toony / Russell situation. Surely the first job of any manager is to get the best out of his players. The second job is to build them in to a cohesive team. Third layer is to add the tactics.

    Fundamentally he’s failing at the basics. Man management isn’t good with many examples we can all point to and then the constant chopping and changing isnt building team cohesiveness and familiarity. Then for the last couple of years Toony has been playing tactics that dont suit Russell’s skills, or the rest of the backs, and the forwards haven’t delivered a platform for us to consistently play off.

    1. Funny, we dont complain when he leads us in beating England, even in front of the empty seats at Twickenham.

      1. Funny that , you see I would sacrifice man of the match if we could play like the team of the match.

        Sorry I cannot help myself, I am a Toony fan, I swallow his every word, unquestioningly. If I could only play rugby I am sure he would pick me. That is the bother isnt it, to be that good, you know your own strengths and limitations. I suspect there is always clashes. Mind you when Russell is good he is brilliant. Like the words of the maximus in Gladiator ‘were you not entertained’ (as he chucked his sword into the Royal box). Toony is always, the boss and he needs standards as well, time to give him a break. The one thing he is not, is predictable.

  18. but that’s the nub of it – what style of play do Scotland need to adopt in order to beat the big boys ? Does that mean Russell or a more predictable way of doing things? Always think this has never been resolved – understood this in 70/80s (maybe 90s) but not since.
    It’s clearer in the other 6 nations countries (other than Italy) – we may criticise their respective styles but we do at least understand/recognise it

  19. Toonie is acting like football manager. He feels no necessity to explain or quantify his decisions. To a degree that’s his prerogative.

    The main difference and frustration for us is irrespective of his results and performances it seems the SRU are unable to act. We are going backwards in my view with little accountability

  20. Adam Hastings drop goal from own half to win by 1 point at London Irish last night. Sensational. Tonnie is still a NOT FORGIVEN for not talking to Russell but what a moment for Hastings.

    1. Interestingly Hastings being interviewed post match was asked if Russell could have done that and he was like no problem and sent Russell his love. Gregor will hate that. Feel undermined and send Hastings to bed early at camp.

  21. Russell landing just the 7 kicks at goal in racings win against top 14 champions Montpellier this weekend.

    1. I mean the French commentators were laughing about him being the best player on the pitch and not in the Scotland team. Two of those kicks were 50 yards plus and throw in at least one touchline and creator of three tries. There is an argument we have the best fly half in each of the French and English leagues at the moment but neither will play internationally.

      1. That is the Townsend way, his way or the highway. There will be one less in the terraces this autumn.

      2. Not only has Russell been kicking for Racing for the past 5/6 matches he seems to have added a fair bit of lemgth as well.Just watched the game on Premier-4th choice Scottish stand off!!!

      3. 5th Choice : Duncan Weir is 4th . It is funny no one mentioned Finn was a god, the northern hemisphere’s greatest, when he missed the odd touch finder. When he is bad, he is dire. Townsend was a bit like that himself back in the day.

  22. I think that giving others good experience at 10 against high caliber sides during essentially a set of ‘friendly’ matches is probably to Scotlands longer term advantage. Injuries and loss of form can come to any player.

    Come the 6N and of course the RWC …and Russell is still healthy and playing well for R92 I’d agree that it would be foolish for GT to omit him from the squad.

    I’m not a fan of GTs player management…amongst other situations ..he has allowed a petty relationship to fester and grow with one of our most naturally unique and talented players but ..I think there is a possible flip side adavantage.

    Beating or getting close to an All Black side who have had an indifferent season wont tell us much…I’d rather see us have a fighting chance of success in the 6N and our RWC group.

    1. Beating an AB side for the first time in our history would be a huge achievement in its own right.

      Winning is a habit and beating the best lifts the belief and expectations of a squad. We rarely get a chance to play SA or NZ at home and when we do we should be throwing the kitchen sink at them to win.

      I don’t see how we expect to take a Great Leap Forward and win a 6N let alone compete meaningfully in a World Cup, if we are willing to devalue tests against great rugby nations.

  23. It’s impossible for just one person to mess up this bad. This requires a whole group, arm in arm, working together, united in the messing-up cause.

    Firstly, this is an incredible example of why a test out of the international window is such a moronic idea. You’re only ever going to call up 3 10s, but you need two of them to be based in Scotland, or you’re not covered for the first game. So people talking about Russell vs Thompson – Thompson was always going to be there. It was a choice between Russell or Hastings, and that is already astronomically stupid and entirely mercenary.
    (And yes, there’s obviously another option – pick Kinghorn as a back 3 player, and put him in at 10 for the first game. But how we’ve dealt with Kinghorn is a whole other kettle of nonsense).

    Then there’s Finn, who just genuinely seems a bit toxic if he isn’t getting his own way always forever. Genuinely – name a Tier 1 international coach who would indulge him. Jones? Farrell? Galthie? Nope nope nope. I really do sympathise with him – it’s been all about him for Scotland from an early age, he’s given us a lot of joy along the way, and that has obviously affected him psychologically. But he’s in danger of fully George Best-ing the end of his career.

    But then Toony deliberately trying to antagonize him in the press with this “form” bulldink? Essentially trolling him to the media? Why? It’s a decision that’s totally devoid of empathy, and has all the man-management intelligence of a sock full of rabid chipmunks.

    It’s such a shame because there’s so much to like about this squad – a pack that nobody’s going to take lightly, a chance to maybe finally see the Redpath/Harris pairing, a terrifying back three, genuine depth in several positions. But apparently we’re just not allowed nice things.

    1. @Angerine, yes they could have used the whole argument about “only three 10’s and we need two to be home based,” if they wanted to be diplomatic but of course that would have been BS as well. There is nothing limiting them to just three 10s, and in fact during the 2021 autumn we had Kinghorn and Thompson in for the out-of-window Tonga game and then Finn and Hastings in for the in-window matches. So the out-of-window test is not the route cause here.
      Even if they did want just three 10’s Townsend has shown he has no intention whatsoever of developing Ross Thompson as an international 10. If he did he would have played him last Autumn when Thompson deserved to be well above Kinghorn in the pecking order. and he would have given him far more game time over the Summer. Only injury will see Thompson get any meaningful game time this Autumn. He will probably sit on the bench for the Australia game and that’ll be it. They could have easily used someone like Lang to cover 10 & 12 for the Australia game, he arguably be more deserving than both Thompson and McDowall and would have freed up a place for Russell if they were concerned about numbers. Which they’re not.
      This is GT specifically, intentionally telling Russell he is not needed and not wanted.
      Even if there’s an injury and they call Russell what’s he gonna say?
      “You’ve publicly said i’m not good enough for your squad. My wife is about to give berth in a foreign country and you want me to fly into a camp where i’m clearly not wanted to hold tackle bags and carry water?? errr No.”

      I’m descending into a rant again. time to stop.

      and another thing, i hear he’s now outsourcing the driving of culture within the squad to some new kiwi assistant. not a bad thing as GT is clearly failed at this but seriously as head coach if your not in charge of defense, not in charge of attack, not in charge of set piece, and not driving the culture!!What exactly are you doing?? What is the point of you?? What the f#*k is left!!!

      1. Great Rant , seriously , you need to get angry more. You can write things we all think but stop short of writing. More please Sam, more of this please.

    2. We have a few more that need to join Russell and we can look to the future without our legacy dependencies. Actually the Racing coach seems to indulge Finn and while he has the odd bad game (who doesnt) he seems to get what he needs from him.

      Do you really think Redpath and Harris is the best combo we can put together in the centre just now ?

      1. Sam – I also thoroughly enjoy your rants. This is fair, and I hope it was clear that I wasn’t trying to excuse Townsend and Russell, but of course decisions will be affected by only being able to play some players in all games. And you’re quite right that he picked four 10s last autumn, but 3 of them got very minimal minutes.

        TENC – it’s really hard to tell if Redpath and Harris is our best combo. It definitely was 18 months ago, but Redpath has has godawful luck with injuries. Harris is arguably the best defensive centre in the world ( it’s between him and Am), and whoever plays at 10 & 12 are going to be relatively inexperienced and unused to playing together. So from a defensive perspective, Harris is a must have for me. At his best , Redpath is the perfect 12 for our style of play – second distributor who can run hard and has a bit of imagination. I’ve never seen our midfield operate better than the Calcutta Cup game in 2021. But we’ve never been able to see it again. So the jury’s out, but I’m looking forward to seeing it.

  24. Moving on – Australia this weekend!

    Who do people want to see starting?

    Personally would go something like this:

    Schoeman, Turner, Fagerson, Skinner, Gilchrist, Ritchie, Watson, Fagerson, Price, Kinghorn, Mcdowall, Bennett, Van Der Merwe, Graham, Smith

    Cherry, Bhatti, Nel, Cummings, Crosbie, Horne, Thompson, Tuipulotu

    Tbh after typing this out, there’s not actually that many debatable points..

    – I don’t like Tuipulotu at 12 and refuse to encourage it so McDowall starts. Unless Lang is injured, the decision to leave him out looks even more stupid.
    – Keep Dempsey for the Fiji game
    – Really hope they go with Smith rather than shoe-horning Graham or Holyand to 15.
    – I would prefer Steyn at 23 if he’d played recently.

    1. Changes

      1. Cherry for Turner, Cherry has been very good and more importantly consistent this season. He also has an established partnership with most of the Edinburgh pack day in and out for the line-out.

      Turner has been a disappointment so far this season, struggling to get a start and when he has had game-time looked below average.

      2. Horne over Price, similar to the above. I think it is very important our other 9’s start getting game time now rather than injury enforced in the six nations/world-cup. Need to see what Horne can do, and white also in later games. Horne also seemingly offers a reliable goal-kicker.

      3. Tuipolotu over McDowall.
      Now i agree that on principle i do not want this guy starting 12 when he is not getting game-time there for Glasgow, personally i would have had Lang or Dean starting there.

      I just don’t rate Stafford Mcdowall enough yet, he has made progress this season sure but to throw him in an untested partnership with Kinghorn/Bennett against a good Tier 1 nations is not the time, possibly against Fiji i would comfortable with him appearing.

      On Bench i would have Haining over Crosbie, (just so we have 8 cover) both how shown good form. Dempsey is clearly the superior player but give him some time and not against his Original Country.

      I’d have Steyn as the 23 player, just got to hope Tuipolotu does not get Injured, he is a physical intelligent player however so sure he could do a good job as emergency cover their if needed.


      Smith – Graham – Bennett – Tuipolotu – Van Der Merwe – Kinghorn – Horne – Fagerson – Watson – Ritchie – Gilchrist – Skinner – Fagerson – Cherry – Schoeman

      Steyn – Thompson – Price – Haining – Cummings – Nel – Turner – Bhatti.

      1. Respectable changes.

        Cherry – I wouldn’t mind either way in this case. Turner was indeed poor vs the Sharks and Cherry is always rock solid. My choice was mainly due to Turner having the higher ceiling and if we’re going into the WC with him as first choice, he needs all the experience he can get.

        Horne – I think we’re missing too much experience in the backline to not play Price. Price’s kicking game (whilst hasn’t been the level of last year recently) is so important without Russell and Hogg. Goal kicking is something I hadn’t considered though – none of the options really inspire confidence.

        Tuipulotu – You make a good point and I think Toonie will probably go with him. In my view though, we’ve seen 3 times now that Tuipulotu at 12 doesn’t really work for Scotland. Also Kinghorn at 10 means there’s an even greater need for distribution at inside centre and while this isn’t necessarily McDowall’s strong suit, his larger amount of experience in the position will surely be beneficial.

        Haining – Sensible I guess. I do want to see Crosbie get more experience though and Skinner can cover back row is Fagerson goes down.

      2. Excellent : Neil picks the teams around here. By all means Interlopers’ can pick teams but I refuse to comment on them.

        Neil : Delighted to see you keeping Brown and Price out. The former being a penalty machine and the latter still gets made to look weak , like a wee daft boy, against Rhys Webb.

  25. Here’s my team (Dean and/or Lang should’ve been in squad)

    Smith – Graham – Bennett – Tuipolotu – Van Der Merwe – Kinghorn – Horne – Dempsey – Crosbie – Ritchie – Gilchrist – Skinner – Fagerson – Cherry – Schoeman

    Thompson – Price – Watson – M.Fagerson – Cummings – Nel – Turner – Bhatti.

    1. Tuipolotu plays 13 for Glasgow but is chosen at 12 for Scotland in Toonies crazy approach. Never performed yet at 12. Wonder why 🤦🏻‍♂️

  26. Here’s a thought. If Toonie, backed by the SRU as his employers, is so convinced that his “continuous experimental” approach to team selection is the only way, will he/they stand by that conviction and refund the the ticket price to all those in attendance at Murrayfield if the experiment fails. No me neither!!

    I speak as one who travelled to Cardiff during six nations and witnessed the dross that was “a game plan”.

  27. Probably also need to consider the opposition as well particularly when selecting the centre combination.
    Against Australia in attack we are likely to see plenty of ball and they are usually high scoring games compared to say England or South Africa where we see little ball and fewer try scoring opportunities. So converting chances particularly in midfield and involving the back 3 will be key.

    In defence, the Wallabies could go with any 2 from Ikitau, Foketi and Paisami. All physical but also good steppers. They are unlikely to present as front on tackle practice for phase after phase such as a typical 6 Nations game.

    I have to conclude the answer to both these questions isn’t Chris Harris. More of a Bennett role I think. Can create and/or finish. Unlikely to be beaten for pace in defence and light on his feet. It would be Jones ideally – but for injury and is likely to be sympathising with Russell even when he gets fit again.
    12? hmm. McDowall was looking like Dunbar Mk2 for a while & could still happen. Lang & Dean in form but clearly not the kind of “form” Townsend recognises.

    Then again, Rennie knows the domestic players well, their strengths and weaknesses.

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