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Scotland XV for Autumn Internationals

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Post by bsando Wed 02 Oct 2013, 1:48 pm

Right let's get down to business shall we?!

9/11/13
Scotland vs Japan
KO - 2.30pm

17/11/13
Scotland vs South Africa
KO - 3pm

23/11/13
Scotland vs Australia
KO - 6pm

First of all, the schedule for these three matches is super. Unlike last few years, Scotland will play a less formidable team first before two tough matches against SA and Aus. SA are on a roll at the moment and will be a good, stern test for Scotland before Australia. Injuries may be an issue however as we saw in the summer.

If Scotland beat Australia that will make it 3 wins in a row vs the Wallabies which would be a fantastic achievement. But obviously wins over any of these three teams will be great.

Players

Backs M Bennett (Glasgow), C Cusiter (Glasgow), De Luca (Edinburgh), A Dunbar (Glasgow), M Evans (Castres), T Heathcote (Bath), R Jackson (Glasgow), S Lamont (Glasgow), G Laidlaw (Edinburgh), S Maitland (Glasgow), H Pyrgos (Glasgow), M Scott (Edinburgh), T Seymour (Glasgow), D Taylor (Saracens), G Tonks (Edinburgh), T Visser (Edinburgh), D Weir (Glasgow).
Forwards J Barclay (Scarlets), J Beattie (Montpellier), K Brown (Saracens), B Cowan (London Irish), G Cross (Edinburgh), D Denton (Edinburgh), A Dickinson (Edinburgh), R Ford (Edinburgh), C Fusaro (Glasgow), G Gilchrist (Edinburgh) R Grant (Glasgow), J Gray (Glasgow), R Gray (Castres), J Hamilton (Montpellier), R Harley (Glasgow), A Kellock (Glasgow), S Lawson (Newcastle), K Low (London Irish), M Low (Glasgow), P MacArthur (Glasgow), E Murray (Worcester), A Strokosch (Perpignan), T Swinson (Glasgow), J Welsh (Glasgow)

*Sorry for not updating this sooner. My girlfriend and I broke up a few weeks ago after four and a half years, three living together. I've been in a pretty bad place. However, I'm getting better and looking forward to these games so I'll continue to contribute when I can Wink


Last edited by bsando on Wed 30 Oct 2013, 3:05 pm; edited 3 times in total

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Post by Captain_Sensible Wed 02 Oct 2013, 2:03 pm

Thanks for this, bsando.

I agree that the schedule suits us (finally!). However, I think we should put out our strongest available team for each of the three matches. We need to start building some consistency in the side, and the best way to warm up for two difficult matches vs Sh opposition is to go out, shake off the rust and blow Japan off the park.

Now, the consistency of our strongest team is obviously up for debate. For me, the key areas for discussion are tighthead, the two flank slots, scrum-half, centre and full-back. If we are selecting on form and fitness right now, my team would looks something like

Grant, MacArthur, Welsh
Swinson, Gray Snr
Harley, Beattie, Brown (c)
Cusiter
Jackson
Visser, Dunbar, Bennett, S Lamont
Maitland

Bench - Hall, Reid, Cross, Hamilton, Denton/Barclay, Pyrgos, Heathcote, Hogg

There will probably be a few changes to this by then. Laidlaw should be fit in time for the AIs, and we could do with his goalkicking surety. Matt Scott will hopefully provide some competition on the centres. Hogg may also come back into form and push Maitland to wing and S Lamont to the bench. Brown will stay on as captain, and Harley has been superb of late, so shifting Brown to openside makes sense unless Barclay or Fusaro can make a huge case for themselves. E Murray has looked very out of sorts at Worcs, I think his time has come, sadly.

I'd like to see Jonny Gray in the training squad at least.

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Post by funnyExiledScot Wed 02 Oct 2013, 2:32 pm

The current injury and form situation, with several important players yet to play this season, makes this quite difficult at this stage, and I haven't seen any of the French contingent play.

However, in time-honoured fashion on 606v2, I won't let ignorance prevent me from expressing my views....

1.Grant 2.Ford 3.Welsh 4.Swinson 5.R Gray 6.Brown (c) 7.Barclay 8.Denton 9.Cusiter 10.Jackson 11.Visser 12.Dunbar 13.Bennett 14.Maitland 15.Hogg

16.Murray 17.MacArthur 18.Dickinson 19.Hamilton 20.Harley 21.Laidlaw 22.Scott 23.S Lamont

Whilst I may tinker within that group of 23 players during the three matches, that would be my presumptive starting XV for Japan (at this stage).

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Post by bsando Thu 03 Oct 2013, 11:50 am

Cheers! I agree with your thoughts on blasting Japan off the field capn' sensible, that would be a terrific way to get going, especially since in past autumn internationals Scotland have not won convincingly against pacific teams, or won at all (Tonga). Plus as you say it will give Scotland's best XV a chance to play before two tough games, which I find desirable.  

FES, I reckon Strockosh will feature in the backrow at either 6 or 7 as well as Beattie. It would be great to see Strockosh pick up where he left off in a Scotland shirt. However, I'd love to see the three B's play once again, they were a terrific combo.

As far as the front row goes, I have been very impressed with Reid when he has played for Glasgow. He carries very well, always makes ground and he's a decent scrummager. I would prefer him and Grant as Scotland's 1st choice looseheads. For the tight head spot, I think Cross is Scotland's best option. For all the praise that I've heard regarding Welsh, I haven't really seen him shine out in a game this season so far. Tight head seems a weaker side of the scrum just now.

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Post by funnyExiledScot Thu 03 Oct 2013, 12:01 pm

Strokosch was the player of the tour over the summer, however the competition for that 6 jersey is incredible at the moment. Kelly Brown is playing superbly for Sarries at the moment, and Harley has been excellent for Glasgow. It's such a tough call.

My preference is always to have a proper 7, but given the form of the 6's at the moment, and that fact that Rennie is out and Barclay is on the slow recovery to form, I can see the argument for Strokosch at 6 and Brown at 7. Fusaro may have something to say about that though.

I'm only picking Denton ahead of Beattie because I've seen Denton twice this season and he's been pretty handy, whereas I haven't seen Beattie play at all. Has Beattie been starting?

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Post by Captain_Sensible Thu 03 Oct 2013, 12:03 pm

bsando wrote:Cheers! I agree with your thoughts on blasting Japan off the field capn' sensible, that would be a terrific way to get going, especially since in past autumn internationals Scotland have not won convincingly against pacific teams, or won at all (Tonga). Plus as you say it will give Scotland's best XV a chance to play before two tough games, which I find desirable.  

FES, I reckon Strockosh will feature in the backrow at either 6 or 7 as well as Beattie. It would be great to see Strockosh pick up where he left off in a Scotland shirt. However, I'd love to see the three B's play once again, they were a terrific combo.

As far as the front row goes, I have been very impressed with Reid when he has played for Glasgow. He carries very well, always makes ground and he's a decent scrummager. I would prefer him and Grant as Scotland's 1st choice looseheads. For the tight head spot, I think Cross is Scotland's best option. For all the praise that I've heard regarding Welsh, I haven't really seen him shine out in a game this season so far. Tight head seems a weaker side of the scrum just now.
Keep a close eye on Welsh when he next plays at TH for Glasgow. He's a very solid option there, and the Glasgow scrum has been pushing around all comers so far this season. Cross is a little bit lightweight for my liking.

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Post by beshocked Thu 03 Oct 2013, 12:05 pm

No mention of Duncan Taylor? No I am not expecting him to walk into the Scotland XV but surely he would be in the Scotland squad still?

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Post by funnyExiledScot Thu 03 Oct 2013, 12:24 pm

beshocked wrote:No mention of Duncan Taylor? No I am not expecting him to walk into the Scotland XV but surely he would be in the Scotland squad still?
We're all watching him closely, don't worry. He's been excellent at 12 for Sarries this season, particularly in defence.

Given he can cover both centre slots and has played wing before, I think he's got an excellent shot at the bench. 12 has suddently become quite competitive for Scotland after an almost fallow decade. Matt Scott is a very good player, and Dunbar has started the season very well for Glasgow. With NDL having a mixed start to the season, Grove only just coming back from injury and Bennett still wetting the bed, there's a good chance that two from Scott, Dunbar and Taylor will fulfill the centre slots - that would certainly be a robust option, and Scott Johnson clearly rates Scott and Dunbar as a combination, as well as Taylor who he took on the summer tour as well.

He'll be developing very nicely at Sarries covering for Barritt. Big lad, good pace and a decent offload. I think he likes his defensive role there as well. Nice to see Sarries improving Scotland players!

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Post by George Carlin Thu 03 Oct 2013, 12:26 pm

In terms of Johnny Beattie watch - we really need an expert like 'boredtodeath' to comment:
Pelly are currently 4th in the Top 14 (one point behind Toulon). I checked the last couple of results (loss to Stade on 27/9 - JB not playing or on the bench, horsing Clermont on 20/9 - JB not playing or on the bench, loss to Perpignan on 13/9 - JB started with Tolou at 6, gubbing Toulouse on 8/9 - JB came off the bench, tw@tting the Bordeaux Beagley People on 4/9 - Beattie started and played the whole game). So either he's recently been rotated or he's injured.
 
In terms of Baldy Al watch - I heard that he picked up a knock but I've just checked and he played a full 80 minutes on 29/9 in Perp's excellent win over Toulouse. So maybe it's fine.
 
Fusaro may well be good enough to start. Query whether he can handle the heavy traffic that the Boks will throw - I wouldn't be unhappy with Beattie, Denton, Brown and Harley to interchange against the Boks because we're going to need real physicality.
 
It might be tempting fate but I don't care - I cannot recall a time in the last 10 years where we can list a collection of backs in the way that we can now where there is genuine try scoring threat throughout. Losing Ansbro and Thom Evans was massive for us and 5-6 years ago would have been crippling. But now, with Bennett, Dunbar, Scott, Taylor all coming through - we actual have proper centre combinations and with Seymour, Schlong, Maitland and Visser, wingers who can score tries. Unbelievable.
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Post by IanBru Thu 03 Oct 2013, 12:28 pm

Yeah, I'd be happy for Taylor to be included - I don't think he got enough game time on the summer tour, so he's still somewhat unproven at international level.

He'd probably be behind Bennett for the 13 shirt for me, but ahead of Evans and De Luca, both of whom have had their chance and failed.
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Post by AsLongAsBut100ofUs Thu 03 Oct 2013, 12:38 pm

funnyExiledScot wrote:The current injury and form situation, with several important players yet to play this season, makes this quite difficult at this stage, and I haven't seen any of the French contingent play.

However, in time-honoured fashion on 606v2, I won't let ignorance prevent me from expressing my views....

1.Grant 2.Ford 3.Welsh 4.Swinson 5.R Gray 6.Brown (c) 7.Barclay 8.Denton 9.Cusiter 10.Jackson 11.Visser 12.Dunbar 13.Bennett 14.Maitland 15.Hogg

16.Murray 17.MacArthur 18.Dickinson 19.Hamilton 20.Harley 21.Laidlaw 22.Scott 23.S Lamont

Whilst I may tinker within that group of 23 players during the three matches, that would be my presumptive starting XV for Japan (at this stage).
censored  Ooof, that must have hurt

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Post by AsLongAsBut100ofUs Thu 03 Oct 2013, 12:54 pm

I simply haven't seen enough of the French-based players to know how they have been going form-wise, so anyone that can comment on the achievements of Stroks, Beattie jnr, Hamilton and Gray snr would be more than welcome?

That aside, some thoughts:

Props - in terms of looseheads, Grant hasn't dominated as I might have hoped thus far, and Dickinson has shown that absent the hit, he can actually prop too, while not losing any speed around the park => Grant just shades it for me, but its close; in terms of tightheads, Murray hasn't looked in any sense standout in a weak Wuss pack, while Welsh has been doing the business for the Weege, with Cross clearly second choice behind Nel at the MFLs => Welsh first choice, not sure about bench yet

Hooker - MacArthur has been putting himself around, and I would arguably is ahead of Ford who has looked at times lacklustre for the MFLs; Hall hasn't been too bad either when he's featured for Glasgow, but fES will have a fit if we pick him! Lawson is still injured => wee P ahead of Ford

Second row - I'd like to hear more about Gray snr's form, but certainly his little brother has been doing great work for the Weege; I'm putting Kellock out to grass now in international terms, but Swinson has continued his upwards trajectory for me; need info on Hamilton too, so no picks can be made yet

Backrow - I remain a massive fan of balance and not playing individuals out of position, so I want Brown, Stroks and Harley to battle it out for the blindside shirt, and Barclay and Fusaro the same for openside; haven't seen Beattie, and Denton has done ok in a losing cause, nothing more; more info on overseas players required before selection made, but all invited to train

Halfbacks - Great to have Cus back, and with Laidlaw out injured, he becomes an automatic pick; Henry is still capable of genius and dreisch in a single 30 second period, but is capable of doing a job from the bench, nothing more => Cusiter, Pyrgos; Jackson is the only 10 playing regular rugby at the moment, Heathcote doesn't seem to be in favour at Bath and did himself no favours in the first half vs Sarries, while Weir is still on his comeback from injury => has to be Jackson, Heathcote, but Weir defo available for training

Centres - massive blow that Matt Scott is injured, and contrary to popular opinion, I'm not sold on Dunbar at 12 - for me he remains more of an outside centre, and looks more comfortable there; the other option for a second 5/8th would be Taylor who has done well when given the opportunity at Sarries; outside is clearly a given angel, saying any more would be a waste =>Taylor/angel

Back three - tough one, with Hogg not quite at the stage you'd like, but give him time and he'll be back; Visser still running in tries, but I don't like his defence, while Seymour and Lamont both look hungry for the Weege; Maitland has showed in just one game just how good a rugby brain he's got => Lamont/Hogg/Maitland for me, with Seymour on the bench, but all to train

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Post by funnyExiledScot Thu 03 Oct 2013, 12:54 pm

AsLongAsBut100ofUs wrote:
funnyExiledScot wrote:The current injury and form situation, with several important players yet to play this season, makes this quite difficult at this stage, and I haven't seen any of the French contingent play.

However, in time-honoured fashion on 606v2, I won't let ignorance prevent me from expressing my views....

1.Grant 2.Ford 3.Welsh 4.Swinson 5.R Gray 6.Brown (c) 7.Barclay 8.Denton 9.Cusiter 10.Jackson 11.Visser 12.Dunbar 13.Bennett 14.Maitland 15.Hogg

16.Murray 17.MacArthur 18.Dickinson 19.Hamilton 20.Harley 21.Laidlaw 22.Scott 23.S Lamont

Whilst I may tinker within that group of 23 players during the three matches, that would be my presumptive starting XV for Japan (at this stage).
censored  Ooof, that must have hurt
Not at all. Now he's playing regular professional rugby I'm more than happy to consider him a viable option for Scotland. Taylor and Dunbar are both playing at 12, Scott hasn't played yet, Grove is out, NDL isn't playing as well as Bennett at 13 and neither is Sean Lamont. It's a no brainer really.

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Post by funnyExiledScot Thu 03 Oct 2013, 12:56 pm

AsLongAsBut100ofUs wrote:Centres - massive blow that Matt Scott is injured, and contrary to popular opinion, I'm not sold on Dunbar at 12 - for me he remains more of an outside centre, and looks more comfortable there; the other option for a second 5/8th would be Taylor who has done well when given the opportunity at Sarries; outside is clearly a given angel, saying any more would be a waste =>Taylor/angel

Braveheart
Pretty sure you said the exact opposite in the summer when Dunbar was playing 13 outside Matt Scott!!

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Post by Majestic83 Thu 03 Oct 2013, 1:03 pm

Going to be some intersting selections for the Autumn tests as there is a good number of players who are playing well so the depth in certain positions is pretty deep.

Another name to add to the squad that has not be mentioned yet is Scott Newlands at Oyonnax who is playing amazingly well just now and has been dominating alot of the big established teams back rows. Probably not going to start but i think worth a spot in the training squad at least.

A few key players have a race against time to be fit for the tests like Greig Laidlaw, Matt Scott, Duncan Weir.

My starting line up at the moment would be
1 Grant
2 Ford
3 Welsh
4 Swinson
5 R Gray
6 Strokosh
7 Fusaro
8 Beattie
9 Cusiter
10 Weir
11 Visser
12 Scott
13 Bennett
14 Maitland
15 Hogg

16 MacArthur 17 Dickinson 18 Murray 19 Hamilton 20 Brown 21 Laidlaw 22 Jackson 23 Lamont

Gone for Welsh at tighthead as he seems the strongest option there at the moment and is very solid at the scrum. Not been massively impressed by Euan Murray so far but could be because Worcester have been terrible so far this season.
The lock positions are tight to call. Hamilton has looked good when I have seen him play at montpellier where as Gray hasn't really imposed himself fully. Swinson looks like he has carried on where he left off from last season.

Back Row I have gone for Strokosh at 6, player of the tour for the 2nd year running and has been in very good form at Perpignan. Brown is maybe the better overall player but Strokosh is very good at getting really stuck in to the early confrontations and making the big hits to help to tire teams out and wear them out and then bring Brown on in the 2nd half who can offer a different option then.
I think Scotland need a geuine 7, Rennie is a loss but Fusaro is a very similar style to him if not even more aggressive which is a trait Scotland need more off.

At half backs I'd pick Cusiter, he seems determined and hungry plus his service is a lot quicker than Laidlaws. At 10 I'd pick Weir if he gets some matches before then. I still think he is the best overall 10 and needs a few games to stamp his authority on the team instead of being played for a game or two then swapped for someone else.

Centres I'd go Matt Scott, seems to be getting better and better and is hopefully match fit for the tests otherwise I'd go Dunbar at 12.
Bennett still hasn't had a lot of games but I think he is ready, he offers something different that not many of the other backs do and that is a real spark and with the potential in the back line combining with the back 3 they could be prety lethal.

The back 3 isn;t as easy to pick as people would first think. Hogg isn't in his best form at Glasgow yet and Visser hasn't had much game time either. Maitland has played one or two games but does look good already and I think will be better than last year having had a proper break. Sean Lamont comes into contention but I think he is makes great impact from the bench as he is normally angry and fired up at not starting and could cause problems for teams later in the game. Tommy Seymour is also in with a shout as well.

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Post by funnyExiledScot Thu 03 Oct 2013, 1:41 pm

Agreed on Seymour - he's made a strong start to the season. In fact I'd possibly have him ahead of S Lamont in the pecking order, and I think he could push Maitland to 15 if Hogg's form continues to struggle along.

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Post by AsLongAsBut100ofUs Thu 03 Oct 2013, 1:48 pm

funnyExiledScot wrote:
AsLongAsBut100ofUs wrote:Centres - massive blow that Matt Scott is injured, and contrary to popular opinion, I'm not sold on Dunbar at 12 - for me he remains more of an outside centre, and looks more comfortable there; the other option for a second 5/8th would be Taylor who has done well when given the opportunity at Sarries; outside is clearly a given angel, saying any more would be a waste =>Taylor/angel

Braveheart
Pretty sure you said the exact opposite in the summer when Dunbar was playing 13 outside Matt Scott!!
Probs, but now that I've seen him there for Glasgow, Dunbar doesn't look like a natural twelve to me - happy to be convinced otherwise; the alternative view would be that he's not quite at the right level (yet) in either position - take your pick

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Post by RDW Thu 03 Oct 2013, 1:50 pm

Great thread - was about to say we're starting early but it's just over a month away!

Scotland have never, ever been able to easily beat 2nd tier nations in recent years, and I think it would be foolish to put out a 2nd XV against Japan. Plus, the players are rested the week before and the week after the series so they should be able to play each game.

I'd go for pretty much the same team for each game - we need consistency in selection and the chance to get some consistent performances in.

1 Grant
2 Ford (really need his bulk, and there's still time to come to form)
3 Murray
4 Gray
5 Hamilton (need a big shift from him)
6 Brown (c) (tough on Stokosh but there you go)
7 Fusaro/Rennie (if fit Fingers Crossed )
8 Beattie/Denton depending on form (Denton has started the season well)
9 Laidlaw (gk) - We need a reliable kicker, but will be interesting to see if Cusiter hits top form.
10 Jackson - I wish there was someone else, but there really isn't unless Weir picks up some game time
11 Visser - need his finishing
12 Scott
13 Dunbar
14 Maitland
15 Hogg

Bench - Dickinson, MacArthur, Welsh, Kellock, Strokosh, Cusiter, Weir, Shlong

The idea being Shlong and Strokosh will be pee'd off at being benched and will come on with a point to prove!

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Post by funnyExiledScot Thu 03 Oct 2013, 1:59 pm

AsLongAsBut100ofUs wrote:
funnyExiledScot wrote:
AsLongAsBut100ofUs wrote:Centres - massive blow that Matt Scott is injured, and contrary to popular opinion, I'm not sold on Dunbar at 12 - for me he remains more of an outside centre, and looks more comfortable there; the other option for a second 5/8th would be Taylor who has done well when given the opportunity at Sarries; outside is clearly a given angel, saying any more would be a waste =>Taylor/angel

Braveheart
Pretty sure you said the exact opposite in the summer when Dunbar was playing 13 outside Matt Scott!!
Probs, but now that I've seen him there for Glasgow, Dunbar doesn't look like a natural twelve to me - happy to be convinced otherwise; the alternative view would be that he's not quite at the right level (yet) in either position - take your pick
I'm slightly surprised by that view. As between Dunbar and Bennett, I'd have thought Dunbar has probably been the stronger performer this season for Glasgow. Happy to be told I'm wrong as I haven't seen all the Glasgow matches.

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Post by AsLongAsBut100ofUs Thu 03 Oct 2013, 2:15 pm

RDW_Scotland wrote:Great thread - was about to say we're starting early but it's just over a month away!

Scotland have never, ever been able to easily beat 2nd tier nations in recent years, and I think it would be foolish to put out a 2nd XV against Japan. Plus, the players are rested the week before and the week after the series so they should be able to play each game.

I'd go for pretty much the same team for each game - we need consistency in selection and the chance to get some consistent performances in.

1 Grant
2 Ford (really need his bulk, and there's still time to come to form)
3 Murray
4 Gray
5 Hamilton (need a big shift from him)
6 Brown (c) (tough on Stokosh but there you go)
7 Fusaro/Rennie (if fit Fingers Crossed )
8 Beattie/Denton depending on form (Denton has started the season well)
9 Laidlaw (gk) - We need a reliable kicker, but will be interesting to see if Cusiter hits top form.
10 Jackson - I wish there was someone else, but there really isn't unless Weir picks up some game time
11 Visser - need his finishing
12 Scott
13 Dunbar
14 Maitland
15 Hogg

Bench - Dickinson, MacArthur, Welsh, Kellock, Strokosh, Cusiter, Weir, Shlong

The idea being Shlong and Strokosh will be pee'd off at being benched and will come on with a point to prove!
Far too many MFL players warning 

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Post by Captain_Sensible Thu 03 Oct 2013, 2:32 pm

AsLongAsBut100ofUs wrote:
RDW_Scotland wrote:Great thread - was about to say we're starting early but it's just over a month away!

Scotland have never, ever been able to easily beat 2nd tier nations in recent years, and I think it would be foolish to put out a 2nd XV against Japan. Plus, the players are rested the week before and the week after the series so they should be able to play each game.

I'd go for pretty much the same team for each game - we need consistency in selection and the chance to get some consistent performances in.

1 Grant
2 Ford (really need his bulk, and there's still time to come to form)
3 Murray
4 Gray
5 Hamilton (need a big shift from him)
6 Brown (c) (tough on Stokosh but there you go)
7 Fusaro/Rennie (if fit Fingers Crossed )
8 Beattie/Denton depending on form (Denton has started the season well)
9 Laidlaw (gk) - We need a reliable kicker, but will be interesting to see if Cusiter hits top form.
10 Jackson - I wish there was someone else, but there really isn't unless Weir picks up some game time
11 Visser - need his finishing
12 Scott
13 Dunbar
14 Maitland
15 Hogg

Bench - Dickinson, MacArthur, Welsh, Kellock, Strokosh, Cusiter, Weir, Shlong

The idea being Shlong and Strokosh will be pee'd off at being benched and will come on with a point to prove!
Far too many MFL players warning 
And not enough Swinson. Scotland's best lock over the last 10 months by far.

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Post by reallybored Thu 03 Oct 2013, 2:45 pm

Start the strongest XV against Japan.  Then again against South Africa.  And repeat for Australia.

IMO our strongest squad right now is as follows;

1 - Grant
2 - Ford
3 - Murray
4 - Gray
5 - Hamilton
6 - Brown
7 - Barclay (Rennie when fit)
8 - Beattie
9 - Laidlaw
10 - Jackson
11 - Visser
12 - Scott
13 - Bennett
14 - Maitland
15 - Hogg

MacArthur, Welsh, Low, Swinson, Denton, Cusiter, Weir/Heathcote, Dunbar

Use our experienced front-five and put the pressure on the opposition at set-piece, a well balanced back-row capable of distributing and attacking, Laidlaw controlling the tempo and pace from the base with Jackson free to try release the backs, plenty of pace and threat in the backs and importantly a dead-eye kicker in Laidlaw capable of punishing any team that give him the opportunity.


Really rate Dunbar and think he's capable of doing a job at either 12 or 13, though personally I think he's better suited to 12 as he runs good angles, using his pace well and is a great source of momentum for a team.  Personally I'd like to see Bennett in the team, been impressed with his defence and he's shown glimpses of his attacking potential and Scott was fantastic during the summer.

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Post by George Carlin Thu 03 Oct 2013, 2:53 pm

Writing "Rennie (if fit)" has unfortunately become increasingly like writing "Santa Claus (if real)".
 
Lock combo has got to be Gray The Elder and Swinson, with Grande Jeem on the bench to come on and concede some penalties at a vital moment. Richie should not be too comfortable. He wasn't great on the Lions tour and it sounds like he hasn't hit his straps in France either yet.
 
Alex Dunbar has been superb in both centre positions for a while now. Absolutely not clear cut whether it should be him or Scott in the shirt. If it's Bennett at 13 then the obvious advantage of Dunbar is that he knows his centre partner and that sort of continuity is important.
 
Given the competition, Nick de Luca needs to look long and hard at the possibility that his Scotland days are numbered. A couple of great flashes of inspiration every other game is not enough any more.
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Post by Captain_Sensible Thu 03 Oct 2013, 3:00 pm

George Carlin wrote: Given the competition, Nick de Luca needs to look long and hard at the possibility that his Scotland days are numbered. A couple of great flashes of inspiration every other game is not enough any more.
Precisely. I will be furious if Johnson selects de Luca in any capacity in November. We have better options now.

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Post by AsLongAsBut100ofUs Thu 03 Oct 2013, 3:12 pm

George Carlin wrote:Writing "Rennie (if fit)" has unfortunately become increasingly like writing "Santa Claus (if real)".
 
Lock combo has got to be Gray The Elder and Swinson, with Grande Jeem on the bench to come on and concede some penalties at a vital moment. Richie should not be too comfortable. He wasn't great on the Lions tour and it sounds like he hasn't hit his straps in France either yet.
 
Alex Dunbar has been superb in both centre positions for a while now. Absolutely not clear cut whether it should be him or Scott in the shirt. If it's Bennett at 13 then the obvious advantage of Dunbar is that he knows his centre partner and that sort of continuity is important.
 
Given the competition, Nick de Luca needs to look long and hard at the possibility that his Scotland days are numbered well and truly a thing of the past. A couple of great flashes of inspiration every other game is not enough any more.
Fixed that for you, GC - it's you, so no charge; if it had been fES, I'd have had to charge, cos he makes so many mistakes of this ilk

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Post by RDW Thu 03 Oct 2013, 3:30 pm

Woops - would defo have Swinson over Kellock!

As for the Edinburgh players - would you seriously want to go into the SA and AUS game relaying on Jackson as place kicker?? Laidlaw has to play, if he comes back quickly and gets some games under his belts.

You could argue against Ford, but we'll really need his strength in the set piece against SA. Again if he is completely off form then no.

Denton has been playing pretty well so far, but again it comes down to form.

Ross Rennis - well, we really could do with him playing, but I think the AIs might just be too soon.

Visser scores tries. We all know his faults but again if he's on form and scoring for Edinburgh he will be a great asset.

So all in all, not really too many Edinburgh players!

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Post by George Carlin Thu 03 Oct 2013, 4:28 pm

Wouldn't be unhappy with a 'current form' XXIII of:
 
01. Grant
02. MacArthur
03. Welsh
04. Swinson
05. R. Gray
06. Strokosch
07. Brown (c)
08. Beattie
 
09. Laidlaw
10. Jackson
11. Visser
12. Dunbar
13. Bennett
14. Seymour
15. Maitland
 
16. Hall
17. Murray
18. Low
19. Kellock
20. Denton
21. Cusiter
22. Heathcote
23. Hogg

Ford just hasn't done enough, the big bollicks.
Tough to leave out Scott, Lamont and Taylor but oh yes, I went there.


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Post by RDW Thu 03 Oct 2013, 4:40 pm

George Carlin wrote:
 
That is giving Ross Ford the enormous benefit of the doubt.
You didn't pick Ford?Headscratch 

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Post by funnyExiledScot Thu 03 Oct 2013, 5:01 pm

RDW_Scotland wrote:
George Carlin wrote:
 
That is giving Ross Ford the enormous benefit of the doubt.
You didn't pick Ford?Headscratch 
He's also picked the ruck inspector...

Doh 

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Post by funnyExiledScot Thu 03 Oct 2013, 5:02 pm

RDW_Scotland wrote:Woops - would defo have Swinson over Kellock!

As for the Edinburgh players - would you seriously want to go into the SA and AUS game relaying on Jackson as place kicker?? Laidlaw has to play, if he comes back quickly and gets some games under his belts.

You could argue against Ford, but we'll really need his strength in the set piece against SA. Again if he is completely off form then no.

Denton has been playing pretty well so far, but again it comes down to form.

Ross Rennis - well, we really could do with him playing, but I think the AIs might just be too soon.

Visser scores tries.  We all know his faults but again if he's on form and scoring for Edinburgh he will be a great asset.

So all in all, not really too many Edinburgh players!
You won't convince him. At 101 years old his right eye (which was his good eye) has well and truly shut. Just nod and smile....

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Post by reallybored Thu 03 Oct 2013, 5:05 pm

George Carlin wrote:Lock combo has got to be Gray The Elder and Swinson, with Grande Jeem on the bench to come on and concede some penalties at a vital moment. Richie should not be too comfortable. He wasn't great on the Lions tour and it sounds like he hasn't hit his straps in France either yet.
Gray gets a tough time, his work-rate it as good as any lock in world rugby, he's good in the line-out, at full flight he's a handful and in my opinion has never really had a poor game for us.  Just settling in at Castre after a summer away with the Lions (I thought he played well on tour), November is still 3/4 games away so bit of patience required.

Swinson has been a fantastic signing for Glasgow and just as valuable as Strauss or Matawalu, works his socks off for 80 minutes and puts himself about plus he was very impressive during the summer.  

But I feel Big Jim's contribution gets overlooked by a lot of people especially at the set-piece, our scrum is always far more solid with him and he calls the line-out, trimmed down last season and put in far more work around the pitch which he didn't get much credit for.  He gives our pack a nastier edge, which can help and occasionally hinder.  Lead Gloucester well last season, had a good 6 Nations, did well against SA during the summer (pretty sure everyone here would agree it was a harsh YC) and has moved to a top French club this season.

For me, I'd prefer we focused on dominating the set-piece and Gray with Hamilton is our best partnership to do that, plus Swinson off the bench would guarantee impact.

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Post by reallybored Thu 03 Oct 2013, 5:10 pm

RDW_Scotland wrote:Woops - would defo have Swinson over Kellock!

As for the Edinburgh players - would you seriously want to go into the SA and AUS game relaying on Jackson as place kicker?? Laidlaw has to play, if he comes back quickly and gets some games under his belts.

You could argue against Ford, but we'll really need his strength in the set piece against SA. Again if he is completely off form then no.

Denton has been playing pretty well so far, but again it comes down to form.

Ross Rennis - well, we really could do with him playing, but I think the AIs might just be too soon.

Visser scores tries.  We all know his faults but again if he's on form and scoring for Edinburgh he will be a great asset.

So all in all, not really too many Edinburgh players!
Even if he is back playing for Edinburgh come November, I'd prefer Johnson just left him with Edinburgh to get game-time rather than throw him in against the Boks after a year out.  Barclay played well last season and is a more than able replacement, Fusaro would do a job and Brown did very well in the role during the 6 Nations, so there are other options and having Rennie 100% for the 6 Nations would be far more beneficial for Scotland.

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Post by funnyExiledScot Thu 03 Oct 2013, 5:12 pm

Where Jim Hamilton excels is as a spoiler. He's a total pain in the rear for the opposition at scrum, maul and lineout - his performance against Ireland in the last 6 Nations was a great example.

Where Big Jim is not so good though is when the game is played at a fast tempo. Remember the England game last 6 Nations or the All Blacks game in the AIs, he was needing oxygen after 30 seconds and was barely involved. It comes down to the type of game we want to play, and also the conditions. At a rain soaked and windy Murrayfield I'd go for Hamilton every time, but if we want to develop our game into a quicker tempo rucking game, with multi-phases, which with the backs we are developing could well be the way forward for us, then the Swinson/Gray combination makes more sense.

I'd start Swinson and Gray and have Big Jim on the bench. I'd probably switch Hamilton in for the South Africa game as we'll need him for the inevitable punch-up.

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Post by reallybored Thu 03 Oct 2013, 5:30 pm

funnyExiledScot wrote:Where Jim Hamilton excels is as a spoiler. He's a total pain in the rear for the opposition at scrum, maul and lineout - his performance against Ireland in the last 6 Nations was a great example.

Where Big Jim is not so good though is when the game is played at a fast tempo. Remember the England game last 6 Nations or the All Blacks game in the AIs, he was needing oxygen after 30 seconds and was barely involved. It comes down to the type of game we want to play, and also the conditions. At a rain soaked and windy Murrayfield I'd go for Hamilton every time, but if we want to develop our game into a quicker tempo rucking game, with multi-phases, which with the backs we are developing could well be the way forward for us, then the Swinson/Gray combination makes more sense.

I'd start Swinson and Gray and have Big Jim on the bench. I'd probably switch Hamilton in for the South Africa game as we'll need him for the inevitable punch-up.
There is no reason you can't have both, the All Blacks a perfectly capable of stuffing it up their jersey and doing the tight work well if that's what's needed to win the game as well as upping the tempo and using their backs.       

The best teams have a solid set-piece, aggressive defence and reliable kicker, backs running in tries is just for show compared to those three elements.  With big Jim we've got the set-piece, Laidlaw's boot can provide the points and the defence just comes from the entire teams desire and work ethic.

Our backs will play develop better with a solid platform in front of them providing good territory rather than looking to go wide continuously in search of this quicker tempo rucking game.

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Post by George Carlin Thu 03 Oct 2013, 5:35 pm

RDW_Scotland wrote:
George Carlin wrote:
 
That is giving Ross Ford the enormous benefit of the doubt.
You didn't pick Ford?Headscratch 
Sorry, yes. I swapped Ford out at the last minute. I'm a lawyer. This 'attention to detail' thing is now done by a squadron of Keen Young Things on my behalf.

I just cannot justify Ford when P and Hall are each playing well. Why should we put up with a player well short of his considerable best? Nobody should get a shirt on reputation.

I do think that Kellock is justifiable over Grand Jeem for his leadership and calm head, however. If you have Swinson, then you have your aggressive spoiler already.
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Post by funnyExiledScot Thu 03 Oct 2013, 5:51 pm

reallybored wrote:There is no reason you can't have both, the All Blacks a perfectly capable of stuffing it up their jersey and doing the tight work well if that's what's needed to win the game as well as upping the tempo and using their backs.       

The best teams have a solid set-piece, aggressive defence and reliable kicker, backs running in tries is just for show compared to those three elements.  With big Jim we've got the set-piece, Laidlaw's boot can provide the points and the defence just comes from the entire teams desire and work ethic.

Our backs will play develop better with a solid platform in front of them providing good territory rather than looking to go wide continuously in search of this quicker tempo rucking game.
Yes, but the All Blacks can do this because they have players like Whitelock and Read, world class operators who can adapt to play any form of game and the skillset to play at tempo and do the stodgy stuff as well.

I agree, we need plans A, B and C in operation, which is why I think Swinson and Gray are a better bet than Hamilton and Gray. I've been a big fan of Hamilton over the years, but against teams playing at tempo (e.g. England and NZ in the past), he's been completely blown away. Not his fault, as we haven't been good at winning the contact areas against these teams and establishing our own tempo (and against England was added to the problem by not having a proper 7), but ultimately if we are going to be facing these sides we need to have a better balance to the pack. That's doesn't necessarily mean ditching Hamilton, he's still a very important player for us, but I think Swinson and Gray and the future, and I reckon they are both decent allrounders. I'd give them both a shot, and have Hamilton on the bench as an impact sub.

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Post by RDW Thu 03 Oct 2013, 6:00 pm

The good thing about the AIs is, currently at least, most of the squad is fit without notable injuries. There's obviously a long way to go, but if we can keep injuries to a minimum then there will be a lot of competition for places

Also, if fusaro, Barclay and Rennie are fit there's absolutely no reason to play brown at 7.

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Post by reallybored Thu 03 Oct 2013, 9:12 pm

What are people's expectations for these test matches?

I genuinely think we're capable of beating all three.

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Post by George Carlin Thu 03 Oct 2013, 9:48 pm

Blossoms and Wallabies are there for the taking.

Unfortunately the Boks have unearthed yet another generation of superlatively talented young players - what we would give for a Goosen at 10. Still saddens me a little that Lambie chose the Bokke instead of the thistle. Depends entirely whether they rest their Rugby Championship stars in the autumn. They have come on exponentially since the asbestos underpants moment we provided them with in the Quadrangular.


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Post by RDW Fri 04 Oct 2013, 7:17 am

And the Boks aren't gonna take us lightly after that summer game either. I suspect Hamilton and strokosh are going to receive some special attention if they play too!

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Post by Captain_Sensible Fri 04 Oct 2013, 9:13 am

It's worth noting that Euan Murray got absolutely destroyed by Matt Mullan in the set scrum when Worcs played Wasps recently. The Worcs scrum was frequently going backward at a fair old pace. Murray put in a decent shift around the park, but he looked done in at half time and was duly replaced. I'm a big fan of the Rev's, but perhaps it's time to recognise that he's past his peak.

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Post by alexgmacdonald Fri 04 Oct 2013, 9:26 am

I don't think we can have laidlaw purely on goal kicking because Cusiter is playing very well. It would be a statement of intent saying that we're gonna play rugby based on winning penalties but we have the players to score tries and with Cusiter and Jackson we have a pairif that can release them.

A bit of faith shown in one of our other kickers would do them a great deal of confidence boosting

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Post by Captain_Sensible Fri 04 Oct 2013, 9:29 am

alexgmacdonald wrote:I don't think we can have laidlaw purely on goal kicking because Cusiter is playing very well. It would be a statement of intent saying that we're gonna play rugby based on winning penalties but we have the players to score tries and with Cusiter and Jackson we have a pairif that can release them.

A bit of faith shown in one of our other kickers would do them a great deal of confidence boosting
Statements of intent are all very well, but they will not help us win a tight game vs the Boks. A dead-eye goal kicker will. I'd rather have one of them and win than play fabulous rugby and still lose because of incompetence at a basic aspect of the game.

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Post by RDW Fri 04 Oct 2013, 9:31 am

Getting a bit carried away saying Cusiter has played ‘very well’ – he’s come off the bench and started 1 game. He’s looked OK and am hopeful he can come back to his best, but it is still early days.

Jackson has shown time and time again his kicking is inconsistent – as is his general play. Weir is a lot more consistent but is yet to feature. Laidlaw has won us games at international level by nailing a high % of his kicks – he’s got a proven track record and a great temperament.

I’m not saying pick Laidlaw at all costs – if he’s not match fit or not playing well then he shouldn’t be picked. I just really don’t think we should go into the SA and Aus game relying on Jackson or Hogg kicking as, let’s face it, when’s the last time we won a big game by scoring lots of tries??

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Post by funnyExiledScot Fri 04 Oct 2013, 10:16 am

RDW_Scotland wrote:let’s face it, when’s the last time we won a big game by scoring lots of tries??
At 101 years old, only ASBO is old enough to recall that.....

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Post by alexgmacdonald Fri 04 Oct 2013, 12:22 pm

I do think that he was great vs Leinster. He brought pace and leadership to the team that we missed vs zebre.

Leinster was Glasgow's best performance of the season so far and it's no surprise that he was at the heart of it.

At the moment, him and Pyrgos are the only 2 Scottish scrum halves playing regularly with the addition of Sean Kennedy.

If laidlaw shows good form when he returns then that's great and he should be picked. But when he's not In form then I don't think his goal kicking should see him picked over a player that is playing better.

In terms of scoring tries, if we always rely on penalties then we are never going to progress. Glasgow showed last season (top try scorers in the league) that Scottish sides can score tries and Edinburgh have in the past as well. However if we get too reliant on a great goal kicker then there isn't going to be the hunger to score tries.



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Post by alexgmacdonald Fri 04 Oct 2013, 12:23 pm

I do think that he was great vs Leinster. He brought pace and leadership to the team that we missed vs zebre.

Leinster was Glasgow's best performance of the season so far and it's no surprise that he was at the heart of it.

At the moment, him and Pyrgos are the only 2 Scottish scrum halves playing regularly with the addition of Sean Kennedy.

If laidlaw shows good form when he returns then that's great and he should be picked. But when he's not In form then I don't think his goal kicking should see him picked over a player that is playing better.

In terms of scoring tries, if we always rely on penalties then we are never going to progress. Glasgow showed last season (top try scorers in the league) that Scottish sides can score tries and Edinburgh have in the past as well. However if we get too reliant on a great goal kicker then there isn't going to be the hunger to score tries.



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Post by GLove39 Fri 04 Oct 2013, 12:29 pm

Who needs to score tries!? As recent history shows, 9 points is all that's needed to beat the Wallabies..!

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Post by funnyExiledScot Fri 04 Oct 2013, 12:32 pm

GLove39 wrote:Who needs to score tries!? As recent history shows, 9 points is all that's needed to beat the Wallabies..!
Absolutely, and as a certain "attack coach" of Scotland once articulated, you don't need the ball or to score tries to win games.

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Post by tigertattie Fri 04 Oct 2013, 12:33 pm

For me the team should be

1. Grant - Best performing loosehead
2. MacArthur - Time to step up, Ford has had ample chance to regain form, time he sat out
3. Welsh - Doing well and Euan Murray is just not the player he once was
4. Gray - Where folk are getting he had a bad Lions tour from I'll never know!
5. Swinston - Performing well, I see him and Gray being our locks for the next 6-7 years
6. Brown - Playing well for club, always consitant for Scotland, Captain.
7. Fusaro - We need a 7 playing at 7 and with Rennie out, Fusaro is the man in line
8. Denton - Appears to be getting his form back under Solomons
9. Laidlaw - Kicking duties required, but if he does not get his service sorted out, then its cusiter
10. Heathcote - Sorry but Wacko is just too hot and cold and again has had plenty chances to sort himself out
11. Visser - Scores tries
12. Matt Scott (fitness and form dependant) His shirt to lose for now imo
13. Bennett - Dare I say we play him?
14. Maitland- Creates tries
15. Hogg - Surely he will get back to his best soon?

I've gone for a mostly youthful side as its time we looked at building a team for the world cup.  I don't like putting to new a side out in the 6n's as this is a compitition itself.  The AI's is the time to start trying new things.

There is obviously fringe players out there.  Seymour could take up wing spot with Maitland moving to 15 and hogg dopping to the bench if he does not find his feet.  Harley could come in at 6 with brown moving to 7.  Cusiter could quite easily displace laidlaw.  Would kicking fall to Hogg if this happened?
Slong I would still have in consideration also.  Always tries is damndest.  I would say he is bench bound going forward though.  Can cover centre, wing and fullback at a push!
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