Allister Hogg's horrible season lingers as Scotland 'A' side tour staggers on

ALLISTER Hogg might have been enjoying some tag rugby with Romanian schoolchildren in the glorious heat of Bucharest yesterday, but the Scotland 'A' skipper is finding the pain of a horrible 2009-10 season refuses to go away.

Yesterday, the physical pain stemmed merely from bad blisters he had picked up in the 'A' team's second defeat in the IRB Nations Cup, 23-20 to Namibia on Tuesday. He is fully recovered now from extensive hip problems and four months he spent out of the game from December in rehabilitation, but the tour is not helping his bid to recover mentally from the season's disappointments.

Edinburgh struggled to a poor end to the season, talks to extend his contract at the capital club failed to reach agreement and he quit Scotland for a new career at Newcastle under his former Scotland coach Alan Tait. Left out of the Scotland tour to Argentina he can only watch as a handful of his back row competitors enhance their reputations under the nose of head coach Andy Robinson, while his own takes suffers another bloody nose in Bucharest.

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However, as skipper he is striving to retain some measure of optimism within the 'A' camp. It is a much younger and less experienced squad than that which won the cup last year, Robinson taking advantage of there being no senior tour to lay foundations, but still they expected to beat Georgia and Namibia. Hogg believes they are not playing too poorly, but, in pointing to similar problems Robinson is wrestling with in Buenos Aires, the failure to finish chances and score tries appears to becoming an endemic one across the Scottish game.

Hogg admitted: "We were very disappointed (to lose to Namibia]. I think we played enough rugby to win the game again, but, sadly, it was the same story we had against Georgia – we made far too many mistakes. I think we turned the ball over about ten times in their 22 when we had try-scoring opportunities.

Scotland 'A' round off their campaign against Argentina's second-string the day after Scotland's second Test clash with the Pumas in Mar Del Plata.

"For us, this is about putting a performance in and getting a win first and foremost," Hogg added. "We can still potentially finish third in this tournament if we get a bonus-point win, so hopefully we can do that."