Former British and Irish Lions forward Peter Wright says he is “gobsmacked” at David Denton’s omission from the Scotland team to face Italy this weekend.
Denton was one of three changes named in the pack on Tuesday for the trip to Rome as interim head coach Scott Johnson desperately seeks a winning formula following opening Six Nations defeats to Ireland and England.
Wright has backed the move to restore Lions cap Richie Gray to the second row at the expense of Tim Swinson and to call in Scott Lawson for hooker Ross Ford for Saturday’s potentially pivotal encounter with the Azzurri. However, he has been left stunned by Johnson’s decision to leave Denton out of the starting line-up after the Edinburgh back-rower proved one of Scotland’s better performers in the 20-0 defeat to England last time out.
Wright said: “There had to be changes after the performance against England, where we got very little quality possession to let the backs attack from. I think Richie Gray and Scott Lawson definitely need to be in, although I think (lock) Tim Swinson could argue he was a little bit unlucky. In the back row, I’m actually gobsmacked that Denton has been dropped. Not so much for Johnnie Beattie, because I think Beattie should be in the team, but I thought they might have moved Denton to (number) six, because I think he gives you a lot more than Ryan Wilson does.
“I think he could make it stronger but obviously he’s the man that gets paid big money to make these decisions.”
Scotland are seeking their first Six Nations win in Italy since the 13-10 victory in 2006.
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