THERE are players who say what they have been told to say and there are players who say what they think. Thankfully Sean Lamont has been around the block often enough to fall into the second category.
While others attempted to add a little gloss to Scotland’s woeful performance in their 19-17 win against Canada on Saturday, the leggy back said what had been plum obvious to everyone in Toronto’s BMO Stadium with two good eyes in their head.
“We won and that is the positive to take,” said Lamont. “That is about all there is. We knew it was going to be a tougher test than America but our ball retention was way off where it should have been.
“We nicked it from Canada who deserved to win above us. Ball retention was bad. We kept pissing away ball when we should have held it and put the pressure on them. Scoring points and then letting them back into it straight from kick-off, it was not good enough.
“That’s the basic line. Canada’s deserved to win and we stole it. We’ve been on the wrong end of that kind of thing before, so we were just happy to get the win in the end. It was ugly but we will take it.”
And what of the red card which caused the referee to reverse that late penalty and that ultimately got Scotland out of some seriously hot water?
“To be fair, I thought it was a bit harsh,” responds Lamont with his customary candour, “Yes, he led with an elbow, but probably no more than I did for most of the game. It was one of those things and I suppose it did change the momentum of the game.
“I was very surprised. I thought he was going to get a yellow card. In the eyes of the referee, it was that leading with the forearm, which I think is not allowed. The fact that it caught Jacko square on the jaw was important. Had it been on the chest or elsewhere there would have been nothing more. It is different if you lead with the ball carrying arm. You see it all the time, but the referee decided it was contact with the face.”
It was a special day for Lamont who might have wished for a better performance to mark the Test in which he became the second most capped international that Scotland has ever produced. His appearance against Canada was his 88th cap, which is one more than Scott Murray, although he still has a long way to go to catch Chris Paterson’s record target of 109 caps. Indeed hitting a century seems to be uppermost in Lamont’s mind right now and, given his ability to play across the back line, it’s very possible he’ll get there.
“I’ve still got some way to catch Chris,” said Lamont. “But I’m happy because I still love playing for Scotland and I’ll do it as long as I’m needed or wanted. But I’m not counting, I’ve got to keep earning my place. Twenty-one caps [to catch Paterson] would take roughly two years. I put two more years on my contract. So yes, it is doable, but that would mean playing every game and being fit and worthy of my position. It is a big ask. I would like to do it, but it is outwith my control.”
Does he mind being shuffled around the houses, playing on both wings, in both centre positions and at full-back? “I don’t mind that,” Lamont replies. “If I can be useful to Scotland in any capacity then I will play there. If they want me to play in the front row I’ll play, although I’m not saying I’d be any good at it!”
Along with the majority of this Scotland squad, Lamont will be heading home now, but while most players are grabbing some sun screen and making for the beach, the big man is in the Sevens squad competing at Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games. Between now and then Lamont will need to work hard at his aerobic fitness because the short game is far more bruising on the lungs than he is used to.
Given his size and physique, the one-time wing will surely feature in the forwards. Having said that he would play prop for Scotland if it meant being involved, it seems he’ll get the chance to prove it at Glasgow ’14.