It’s a little strange to think that in just over 30 days time I’ll be setting foot on the other side of this giant planet of ours to witness the almighty spectacle that will be Scotland vs Romania, our own little entree into Rugby World Cup 2011.
With the EMC tests looming and the daily press releases telling us how our players are “harder, faster, stronger” than ever before whilst the players assure us the group has never been so tight-knit, I must ask: how will the warm up games pan out?
How would sir like his steak cooked? Restaurateurs of New Zealand take note, mine’s a medium thanks. How about you, the reader? And possibly of slightly more import, how does one like one’s Wallaby or Springbok? (You can’t use a flower in a cooking metaphor, sorry. Or for that matter an All Black)
The Scotland under-20s have already left for their World Cup in Italy. In their ranks they have Duncan Weir, Mark Bennett and Stuart Hogg. They also, it must be said, go with mixed expectations.
While I was sitting thinking about whether to write about London Scottish getting promotion (congrats to all) or Chris Cusiter heading down under for some match fitness (throw another shrimp on the barbie, don’t get injured) or maybe the Sevens squad again being strengthened with pros (more non-reflective gloss on the results), Andy Robinson decided today was the day to announce his initial World Cup training squad of 40 men. So, mostly opinion free today. As expected there are few surprises (but still one or two). So here it is, hot from Murrayfield:
As Rory has chosen to focus on the backs he has left me with the slightly easier task of looking at the forwards.
The reason this is easier is because Andy Robinson has a pretty samey starting pack and, barring injury, I can’t imagine it will change too much for the first game in the World Cup. So this means the warm-up games against Ireland and Italy will help pick a bench, and the training sessions before hand are hugely important for individuals.
This may be a little premature, but I was looking at the World Cup pools the other day and a nasty question raised itself in my mind. Assuming we play well enough to get out of the group stages, is it worth considering exactly where we come (position wise) in the group? There is one team you want to avoid at all costs if you are not Aussie or France (and we are certainly not): the All Blacks. Warning: contains squiffy fan logic, hypothetical situations and a total dismissal of Argentina as a factor.
With the news that Scott MacLeod is off to Japan to ply his trade, those of us turning thoughts to Rugby World Cup 2011 and who should go on the plane just found our lives a lot easier. Assuming that Robbo takes 4 locks (plus a back-rower or two with a bit of time in the second row perhaps) and that the front runners are most likely Gray, Kellock and Hines, the debate was always going to be over MacLeod or Hamilton for the extra cover berth. Now MacLeod’s move has forced him to recuse himself from World Cup duty, the door is wide open for big Jim. Not always the most mobile, his undoubted contribution has always been general grunt, lineout height and some extra power behind Euan Murray in the scrum. But this news, coupled with decent form for Gloucester should see him tie up the fourth lock slot. Unless Fraser McKenzie gets back to his early season form, then it could get interesting again…