On this weeks podcast we discuss the appointment of John Dalziel as Scotland forwards coach, whether Scottish rugby needs to do better when it comes to player’s mental welfare and whether Scotland really need Finlay Christie
Big Nathan Hines has announced his retirement from International Rugby, making the game he played against England in the World Cup at Eden Park his last in Scotland colours. A stalwart of Scottish rugby, Nathan combined a vibrant offloading game with a “rugged” streak that often found him in the role of on-field enforcer dishing out a bit of street justice, like someone took Chuck Norris and put him in Willy Wonka’s gum stretching machine.
Argentina 16 – 24 Scotland
For once in recent Scottish rugby memory we are greeted – nay, even rewarded – by a final scoreline that reflects the actual game that preceded it. Based on the way they played, Scotland should have been the only team that won this match, although time has taught us this doesn’t always mean they would have.
The only new face is Jim Thompson, although it’s good to see Alex Grove back challenging for the centre spots. The Scotsman touts rumours that he may be set for Edinburgh which would be interesting as they already have Houston, Cairns and De Luca all competing in the midfield. Cairns has (again) missed out here though. Big Nathan has been granted compassionate leave to return to Oz, with the option of joining up at a later date – we wish him and his family well.
Scotland squad for Argentina tour:
Backs: Blair (Edinburgh), Cusiter (capt, Glasgow), Danielli (Ulster), De Luca (Edinburgh), M Evans (Glasgow), Godman (Edinburgh), Grove (Worcester), S Lamont (Scarlets), R Lawson (Gloucester), Morrison (Glasgow), Parks (Glasgow), Southwell (Stade Francais), Thompson (Edinburgh).
Forwards: Barclay (Glasgow), Beattie (Glasgow), Brown (Glasgow), Dickinson (Gloucester), Ford (Edinburgh), Gray (Glasgow), Hamilton (Edinburgh), Jacobsen (Edinburgh), Kellock (Glasgow), S Lawson (Gloucester), Low (Glasgow), MacDonald (Edinburgh), Murray (Northampton), Strokosch (Gloucester).
Well done to Edinburgh for a good result away from home facing down an admittedly poor Cardiff team and coping with the usual performance from G. Clancy esq. Did I say Edinburgh? Oh, I meant Glasgow. Telling the difference between the Scottish pro teams must be getting hard for poor old BBC Wales, who made several references to John Beattie, Firhill, and playing Biarritz next week during the coverage of Edinburgh’s pisspoor display against the Ospreys. Granted, Beattie (junior, I can only imagine) and Ally Hogg may share a hairdresser and Edinburgh have “Aberdeen” on their shirts to confuse matters further, but it’s pretty commentary standards (never mind the bias). This gave me something to get excited about and shout at the telly for (not really the TV’s fault I suppose), given I was long past the point of shouting at Edinburgh’s general ineptitude.
Roddy Grant looked sharper at the breakdown than pretty much the whole team put together, and Ospreys turned Edinburgh over almost at will. A few chances went begging but inability to (or lack of desire to) keep ball proved pretty foolish against an international class (and in many places Lions/world class) backline who promptly cut them to shreds. Good to see Nikki Walker looking sharp though. Godman kicked perfectly from tee so Mossy was not missed in that regard, but as one of the chaps pointed out on the BBC boards, his marshalling of the defensive line was sorely absent. Stand in full back and new signing Steve Jones didn’t cover himself in glory, shall we say, but he should not be the scapegoat.
Meanwhile new Glasgow full back Peter Horne got one kick of the ball on Saturday and sclaffed it into touch, but as it was to end the match I can’t really complain. Still, it’s a good sign for a youngster that he looked thoroughly disappointed in himself even for something that had no bearing on the game. The match had long since been won by the combined work of Colin Gregor and Thom Evans behind a sturdy pack effort and this time Glasgow did not surrender their half time lead. Huzzahs all round for pseudo-Highlander Moray Low’s boot up field that eventually led to Johnnie Beattie’s try (see Jonathan, he was playing for Glasgow). With Cusiter undoubtedly the best 9 Glasgow have, perhaps they should find somewhere else to bring Gregor’s skills into play on a more regular basis – 10 or 15 perhaps?
Big Nathan looks like he would have had fun during the Leinster 30-0 demolition of Munster that brought several tries, a bit of controversy and no doubt plenty of niggle. A much better range of highlights from STV this week too – they are learning a game of rugby is not just the penalty offences that lead to points and I reckon it’s getting better.
Next weekend – Heineken Cup!
Sean Lineen announced his first Glasgow Warriors squad of the season, fresh from a narrow pre-season victory over Kelly Brook’s boyfriend and the rest of the Wasps. They take on champs Munster who may play more of their big guns early on in the season (rather than save them for Europe) now that a top four place is all that is required… Pity we won’t get to see Max Evans match up against De Villiers till later in the season though… No, I’ve never heard of young prop Jon Welsh either but I think Scottish rugby may have finally woken up to the reality that young talent needs to be brought “on stream” earlier than was previous to keep the level of depth and competition for places strong. Chuck ’em in at the deep end – it seems to have worked for Ruaridh Jackson last season. I’m particularly excited to see what impact Chris Cusiter can bring to a Glasgow backline with a fair amount of potential with newcomer Peter Murchie, Rob Dewey and Thom Evans (especially with the likes of Jackson, Colin Shaw, Peter Horne, Max Evans and Colin Gregor challenging too). After many of us thought he had disappeared without contract, Dan Parks continues his career resurrection, holding off Jackson’s challenge at 10 for now. Consistency is the watchword for this season – if they can find that, Glasgow can do better than many expect.
Glasgow team to face Munster:
Bernardo Stortoni, Rob Dewey, Peter Murchie, Graeme Morrison, Thom Evans, Dan Parks, Chris Cusiter, Jon Welsh, Dougie Hall, Moray Low, Tim Barker, Alastair Kellock (captain), Kelly Brown, John Barclay, Johnnie Beattie
Substitutes: Pat MacArthur, Kevin Tkachuk, Dan Turner, Richie Vernon, Mark McMillan, Ruaridh Jackson, Colin Shaw
It’s not on TV this one, but you can catch Nathan Hines’s new team Leinster in action against Sean Lamont’s new team the Scarlets on Saturday evening on S4C (Lamont starts, Hines is rested).
UPDATE: you can now see highlights on Sunday, 5.30pm, STV though!
I will no doubt have a bash once I have had a chance to watch the second and third tests again (pub viewing not the best conditions for analysis although the craic is better) but for now this article by Nathan Hines on the Scotsman site sums up nicely what it meant to all the players, not just the test ones, and his general feelings on the tour.
Hard to disagree with most of it, especially the views on PDV’s reaction to the gouging and second test disciplinary controversy. Although it now seems big Nathan won’t be heading back to Perpignan post summer holidays…
Elsom that is, not Balboa. After his Wikipedia entry was recently amended to suggest he would be moving to Wales (the Ospreys and the Scarlets simultaneously), it seems that Scottish Lion and general all-round troublemaking loon Nathan Hines is now set to leave French Top 14 Champs Perpignan for Irish province Leinster, where he can team up with fellow Lions BOD, Fitzgerald, Kearney and Heaslip and aim to fill the Australian sized gap left by the return home of Rocky Elsom. Presumably the USAP lot are wound up that he prized a Lions shirt over victory in the championship and have decided to let him go. Could be a valuable signing for Leinster, and should be able to give plenty of insight into the Irish camp come 6 Nations time…
Shame one of the pro-teams couldn’t have snapped him up, but with the likes of beanpole Richie Gray coming through the ranks at Glasgow perhaps youth development is more of a focus these days – hardly a bad thing.
It is also being reported that Euan Murray has actually broken his leg on tour in South Africa and will be out for longer than feared, and will possibly not be ready in time for the autumn internationals.
Scottish Lion big Nathan is once again in the headlines for a dangerous tackle. Can’t have been that bad as I didn’t even notice it but according to the BBC breaking news he will serve a one week ban, taking him out of the second Test vs South Africa. Doubtful he would have been selected ahead of O Callaghan or Shaw who now seem to be front runners to take over from Wyn Jones. The team announcement has been moved to tomorrow.
What with Donnacha and Nathan both starting here. Could be a fun game, but it’s still pretty obviously the dirt-trackers. Hopefully Hooky and Blair get another run from the bench…
British & Irish Lions versus Emerging Springboks on Tuesday 22nd June
15. Keith Earls (Munster/Ireland)
14. Shane Williams (Ospreys/Wales)
13. Riki Flutey (London Wasps/England)
12. Gordon D’Arcy (Leinster/Ireland)
11. Luke Fitzgerald (Leinster/Ireland)
10. Ronan O’Gara (Munster/Ireland) Captain
9. Harry Ellis (Leicester Tigers/England)
8. Andy Powell (Cardiff Blues/Wales)
7. Martyn Williams (Cardiff Blues/Wales)
6. Joe Worsley (London Wasps/England)
5. Nathan Hines (Perpignan/Scotland)
4. Donncha O’Callaghan (Munster/Ireland)
3. John Hayes (Munster/Ireland)
2. Ross Ford (Edinburgh/Scotland)
1. Tim Payne (London Wasps/England)
16. Lee Mears (Bath/England)
17. Phil Vickery (London Wasps/England)
18. Simon Shaw (London Wasps/England)
19. David Wallace (Munster/Ireland)
20. Mike Blair (Edinburgh/Scotland)
21. James Hook (Ospreys/Wales)
22. Ugo Monye (Harlequins/England)
Some good games at the weekend there including a solid result for Andy Robinson’s A Team which saw the Scots win their first piece of silverware in years. Rumours of Ruaridh Jackson’s kicking game going AWOL were put to rest with his kicking from tee easing the Scots into a solid lead before some sloppy play at the breakdown let the French back in. Eventually though a nifty wee offload from Ben Cairns put Richie Vernon over the line to seal the victory, and the trophy. Some of the players (like captain Chris Cusiter) will have done their chances of a return to full national honours no harm. Congratulations to the whole squad and coaching staff.
Next up for Robinson is Fiji in the autumn, and his job truly begins. But for now, most of Scotland’s players find their seasons at an end – time for a holiday.
Apart, of course from the doughty Scots holding up the tail end of the Lions squad, who may yet have a role to play. A great – if wildly inconsistent test match on Saturday saw the Lions blown off the park in the first half, only to run back on and do the same to the Springboks for most of the second half. What a difference a scrum makes, and Euan Murray must consider himself very unlucky to pick up an injury at the exact moment his services are required. The bulk of Hines could also be used in the second row. Mike Phillips did little wrong apart from going the same way too often but Blair could be lucky and see the bench in the remaining Test matches. The Lions could definitely have won that test match, but can they win the next one? The challenge will only increase as the Boks aim to plug the holes in their defence left by our centres and will probably leave their front-line troops on the pitch until the game is definitely won, rather than until they think it is won.
I probably still wouldn’t put any Scots in there, save for Big Nathan – the only man to step up his game on tour so far. With the Springboks picking the Beast in the front row, its a real shame Murray is not fit as he was starting to come onto a game, and he really took the Beast to the cleaners in the autumn if I remember correctly.
So here is the team that I would pick – the real one will be announced tomorrow:
15 Byrne – Big boot, great countering and a fearless pair of hands.
14 Kearney – Competition with Byrne for place at the back has brought back the old attacking Rob Kearnery who we missed in the Six Nations. Stick him on the wing, though I suspect Geech et al will go with Monye.
13 O’ Drsicoll – Along with Roberts, the first two names on the team sheet. Still slower than he used to be, but showing all the fire and skill of old. Useful at the breakdown too.
12 Roberts – Not a bad time to find the form of his life. Hopefully his shoulder holds up. Already showed signs of a partnership with BOD in a couple of games, hopefully they are now fully ready for a searching test of it.
11 Bowe – Sorry for writing you off initially Tommy, I stand converted. Folks got excited about Halfpenny and Earls being selected, but Bowe is the find of the tour so far.
10 Jones – O’Gara is a reliable option but Jones has sparked the attack more successfully so far on tour. Understanding with a Welsh (7) 9 10 12 axis could be important. Pity Hook got injured when he did, would have liked to seen him in form to compete here.
9 Philips – I don’t like how he always piles into rucks but so far the only one in decent form
8 Heaslip – Powell has played much better since some adjustments were made to his personal tactics, but Heaslip has still been the more solid player.
7 Williams – need someone to compete on the floor and his link play with Philips and Jones could be key. Wouldn’t be disappointed if they put Wallace in though.
6 Croft – Pierre Spies like pace and agility, could be just the ticket going forward. Great option in the lineout too.
5 O’Connell – Needs to step up his game to prove he is worthy of the mantle Lions captain. We suspect he is, but he needs to prove it.
4 Wyn Jones – Hines is probably too knackered having started the last two games, otherwise I might well have stuck him in. Shaw is pushing hard too but Alun just edges it for his lineout skill. Does leave the second row a little short of grunt though.
3 Vickery – Murray made a bit of a late surge in the scrums then picked up an ankle injury. Could yet feature but for now Vickery is the outstanding candidate.
2 Mears – near faultless in the lineout and showed up well in the loose. A bit lightweight against a guy with the same name as a battleship but Ford hasn’t taken his chances.
1 Jenkins – pushed hard by Sheridan but Jenkins workrate in defence is phenomenal, and offers a bit of cover for tighthead too.
Bench: Rees, Jones, Hines, Wallace, Blair, O’Gara, Fitzgerald
Missing Hook on the bench here – where’s the magic spark? For this I would be tempted to slot Blair on the bench, but I doubt this will happen and they will go with nuggety Ellis. Fitzgerald has looked sharp and pacey so far and offers cover in a few positions. Nathan is unlucky not to start but fatigure from playing back to back should see him rested (much as I am sure he would hate that). Flutey is another bench option, I don’t think now is the time to throw Keith Earls into the maelstrom of test rugby. Monye would be unlucky to miss out but in reality he will probably make Geech’s test team,which will probably also see Shaw on the bench rather than Nathan.
Who would you pick? Be back tomorrow to see what Geech thinks of my selection.