SEAN Lamont believes Scotland should copy the Welsh tactic that saw Finn Russell banned for Saturday’s clash with Italy and use it to their own gain.
Glasgow stand-off Russell is set to miss the RBS 6 Nations clash with the Azzurri in Edinburgh after he was given a retrospective two-week suspension for his challenge on Wales’ Dan Biggar.
The 22-year-old only had eyes for the ball but ended up knocking the Dragons fly-half to the ground as they jousted for a high ball at Murrayfield.
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Despite being shown a yellow card by Kiwi ref Glen Jackson during the 26-23 defeat eight days ago, a Six Nations disciplinary panel ruled Russell’s challenge was “reckless”.
Scotland have appealed the ruling and hope to learn by Wednesday if the young back will be free to line up against the Italians this weekend.
But in light of the panel’s decision and back-to-back defeats against France and Wales, veteran wing Lamont believes Scotland should adopt a kick-chase ploy and hope it produces the same kind of devastating results enjoyed by Warren Gatland’s side.
Lamont - who hopes to collect his 93rd cap this weekend - said: “The high ball is a highly effective weapon. Biggar is good at it and got his rewards that day.
“Not only did he win the ball but we ended up with a man in the bin for 10 minutes. So when you are good at it, it’s definitely a great tactic.
“There is nothing worse when you are standing under a ball that’s dropping on you and you know you can’t get any more than a standing jump. If you are facing someone running at pace, you know they are going to out climb you. It’s physics.
“So yeah, we can take a leaf out of Wales’ book and use it in the right areas. You can get a lot of rewards from it.”
Scrum-half Chris Cusiter - recalled to the Dark Blues squad along with props Moray Low and Alex Allan and loose forwards David Denton and Adam Ashe - watched the Wales clash from his sofa and backed Russell’s claims of innocence.
He now believes the game’s rule-makers must show more leeway for players making honest aerial challenges, even if their opponents do end up in a heap.
“It was a tough one for Finn because there was obviously no malice,” said the 32-year-old Sale player. “He was trying to protect himself in a difficult situation.
“It’s a hot topic this year. It seems anyone who goes to contest in the air and the other guy ends up hurt, it is a yellow or red card.
“It’s a complicated issue. It could have been worse for Finn, he could have been given a red but it was costly because Wales scored when he was off.
“But for me, it’s a really tough decision to say he did the wrong thing there.
“The referees are in a difficult position because they take directives on what the party line is. There are some issues which are real grey areas and that is one of them.
“I have a lot of empathy for the refs because they are under pressure to make a call.
“But you need common sense and it has to come from the top.
“Finn was not trying to endanger the player. He was caught in a difficult position, so you would hope common sense would prevail.”
Head coach Vern Cotter recalled Cusiter in light of a head knock sustained by back-up number nine Sam Hidalgo-Clyne which has seen the Edinburgh half-back placed on a concussion protocol.
The former Glasgow man was dropped from the squad for the first time since breaking into the national side back in 2004, missing the opening 16-8 defeat in Paris and Wales’ win in the Scottish capital.
And he admits the curtain could now be closing on his international career.
He said: “After I was told I wasn’t involved in the first game, I sat in the kitchen for about 45 minutes by myself and had a think about it.
“I was just gutted. I know I haven’t got a huge amount of time left in my career but I thought I would make the squad and then push to make my case for a start.
“So to not even make the squad was hard to take because playing for Scotland has been a huge part of my life.
“I just had to accept it. I haven’t been sending Vern any texts trying to talk him round. The reality is that in international rugby there is always going to be competition.”