Andy Robinson poised to shake-up victorious Scotland team
THERE must be a temptation to leave a winning side well alone but there many reasons for Andy Robinson to shake up the Scotland mix a little when the team for this weekend’s match against Fiji is announced around 6.30pm (UK time) tomorrow.
The first point is that one win in eight matches does not make this side Grand Slam contenders, not that anyone is arguing otherwise. That said, the difference a win has made to the self-belief in the young squad is palpable and they would be several pages ahead of where they currently are had it had arrived back in February against England.
Secondly, the giant Dutchman Tim Visser becomes available for selection and it will be a surprise if the top scorer in the league for the past three seasons doesn’t get the nod from the off.
Who makes way for him may depend upon who suffered the worst injury between Sean Lamont (ribs) and Joe Ansbro (cut eye). Neither man trained yesterday afternoon in the team’s first outing on the island, with Lamont restricted to a few lazy lopes around the pitch and Ansbro not even managing that much. Incidentally, Geoff Cross was deputising for Euan Murray, who was at the local kirk as is his wont on a Sunday.
The press were allowed to watch the squad go through their paces and it’s always instructive to see who brings that extra energy to practice. In that category Max Evans and Tom Brown put their hands up and both men would get the shout if Robinson picked his starting team on sheer enthusiasm alone. However, with Visser likely to fill his favoured left wing, and with Lamont/Ansbro both struggling to be ready, the coach is likely to opt for Evans’ experience over the Edinburgh player with just one cap to his name.
Evans has been on good form for Castres of late and he may be the last piece in the attacking jigsaw for Scotland. This looks close to the side that Robinson has been aiming at for some time now, although it’s worth noting that they showed absolutely nothing in attack against Australia – through no fault of their own. This is a team that is picked to attack with the ball in hand – provided, of course, that their big men can work up a head of steam and get onto the front foot.
With that in mind, Robinson may be tempted to draft Richie Vernon into the middle of the back row. Fiji have nothing like the expertise and experience at the breakdown that Australia were able to muster which is why he picked two specialist sevens in Newcastle. While it might be hard on John Barclay, who was as busy as anyone else on the night, Vernon offers a little more pace off the base of the scrum. If he doesn’t start, Vernon will surely get game time as Robinson must go to his bench more than twice (as he did against the Wallabies) if only to mitigate against the heat and humidity.
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Monday 20 May 2013
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