Kelly Brown handed second chance to captain Scotland ahead of All Blacks test
KELLY Brown was always the leading choice to take over as the new Scotland captain but coach Andy Robinson has confirmed that Edinburgh’s poor showing in the Heineken Cup finally sealed the fate of stand-in Ross Ford.
Ford had stepped in to lead Scotland through the RBS Six Nations Championship after Saracens back row Brown was named skipper in January only to succumb to injury days before the squad was announced.
After a dismal championship, the Edinburgh hooker, widely respected among the squad, enjoyed a more successful tenure in Australasia when the team
secured a three-Test whitewash of Australia, Fiji and Samoa.
That strengthened his claim to retain the reins and Robinson insisted today that it had been a close call between the Borders pair.
But, while Ford has struggled in an Edinburgh team shipping points and losing regularly, Brown has been in fine form with title-chasing Saracens in England. That was illustrated graphically in Saracens’ 45-0 demolition of Ford’s team at Murrayfield on the opening weekend of the Heineken Cup.
Robinson said: “I am absolutely delighted that Kelly is here, fit, healthy and is going to be leading the Scotland team against New Zealand. The work that Kelly has done this week has been exemplary, both as a leader and as a player. He is a player who has consistently performed very well for Scotland in the last couple of years and I’ve been really pleased with what he’s done, how he’s grown and improved in the last two years.
“Having announced that I wanted him to be captain at the beginning of the Six Nations, it is great to see him now here fit. But one of the key things, and I said this to Kelly at the start of the season, was that it was important that he was playing well,
because we want that competition for places. The back row is a very strong area for us.
“Having had a serious leg injury, to come back as quickly as he has is very pleasing, and I think that the European weekends
really cemented Kelly’s place.”
Brown was not initially a first choice in Robinson’s team but, having moved from Glasgow to London, he has developed into one of the UK’s most consistent back-rowers and that, alongside his displays for Scotland, has proved persuasive.
Brown’s support for Ford throughout the Six Nations and his ability to help and advise the players and management, often sitting with the coaches in
the stand, further impressed Robinson.
“That’s one of the key qualities of a leader,” said the coach. “It’s not just when you’re in the team, it’s 24 hours a day that you are a leader and that’s something that Kelly shows. While having an injury, Kelly was keen to lead the team off the field.
“Being a leader is not something you turn on and off. That’s why I believe Kelly should be captain for this team. But Ross is a tremendous character. When he stepped into the role I was pleased with the way he led the side and he is part of the leadership team with Kelly. I think he has grown as a person, a player and a leader in the last year. Part of that is his character to be able to accept the decision that was made.”
Robinson knows the team he plans to name next week and revealed that none of the starting XV will play for Edinburgh or Glasgow this weekend. Exiles such as Brown and Strokosch returned to their clubs last night and may play some part in their club’s league matches.
Robinson would not say as much but he is clearly hoping that fate does not intervene for a second time if Brown plays for Saracens against Wasps on
The coach wants Brown in rude health to provide inspiration ahead of the biggest
challenge any Scotland captain can face – ending a century of history by securing a first-ever win over the All Blacks.
It will be in front of what is expected to be a capacity 67,200 Murrayfield crowd and Robinson added: “This is about having competitors, people who will compete for everything, get off the floor quickly and get back in the game and compete. If we have 15 really tough competitors that will put us in a great place to take on New Zealand.
“They are rightly the number one team and are very good role models for young players in terms of how you play the game. They do the basics very well and that’s what the key to this game is about.
“But I’m looking forward to see how we play. For us, as coaches, working with the Scotland team is always a pleasure because of the way the players handle themselves and the attitude the show in training. I’ve really enjoyed these last few days.”
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