Rugby: Allan can still enjoy a big Chunk of the action

SCOTLAND coach Andy Robinson has set Allan Jacobsen the challenge of matching the durability of an all-time rugby great and hinted that the Edinburgh prop forward has time, even aged 31, to send his current haul of 40 caps soaring.

Jacobsen is one of seven Edinburgh players in Robinson's squad of 30 for the opening RBS Six Nations clash with France at Murrayfield on Sunday, 7 February. The others are Chris Paterson, Nick De Luca, Phil Godman, Ross Ford, Jim Hamilton and Alan MacDonald.

And, as he looks for a big performance from the man they call "Chunk" at a time when fellow front rower Euan Murray has ruled himself out of Sunday play on religious grounds, Robinson drew comparisons with Jason Leonard, the legendary English front-rower.

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Leonard had a 14-year Test career before finishing, aged 36, on the 119-cap mark and, for a while, that made him the world's most decorated player.

Robinson said: "I worked with Jason Leonard for many years and, every time you thought he was going to retire, he came out fighting and that is what it's important for Chunk to do."

Making it clear Jacobsen is now a senior figure – only Nathan Hines in the present pack has more caps – Robinson said the former Preston Lodge ace had to keep his foot on the gas.

"Chunk is important," Robinson said. "It is about setting standards. It is important he keeps working hard. Key for me is that he is fighting to keep his place in the starting line-up."

There are two uncapped players in the squad – Glasgow lock Richie Gray and his team-mate Ruaridh Jackson at stand off – although it is likely the battle for the No.10 jersey will be a straight fight between Phil Godman and the recalled Dan Parks.

Alan MacDonald has just a single cap but, if he was worth an outing against Argentina then he is likely to get further opportunities to show the versatility he's displayed in Edinburgh's back row recently.

Since that debut against Argentina on the open side of the scrum last November, five of MacDonald's six subsequent appearances for Edinburgh have been on the less familiar blind-side.

Switching can be harder than it looks but Robinson, an ex-international back row himself, knows that and MacDonald's reward is likely to be a place in the match-day 22 – depending on the results of scans on Al Strokosch's leg after he was helped off playing for Gloucester at the weekend.

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That prompted Robinson, in naming the men to train at St Andrews next week and from whom the team and subs to face Wales on 13 February as well as France will be chosen, to indicate he was looking at lock Hines as a potential flanker – good news, surely, for specialist MacDonald?

"Alan has been playing well at No.6 although I see him mainly as a No.7," said Robinson "He has been playing well and consistently since returning to Edinburgh after the Autumn Tests. Switching around helps his understanding of being able to cover other positions when going into games in a squad of 22."

Robinson is likely to start the France game with Glasgow's back row of John Barclay, Johnny Beattie and Kelly Brown.

In the second row, Robinson expects Jim Hamilton, who started his season only a couple of days after Christmas due to injury, to be "fresh". The big second row will get another outing for Edinburgh against Stade Francais on Saturday, as the coach will make no recommendations that certain individuals should be rested.

That will mean Hamilton has four games under his belt which should leave him fit enough to be considered a serious challenger to front line locks Al Kellock and Nathan Hines. With Chris Paterson on 98 caps it appears that the utility back will reach the magic three figures at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

While Nick De Luca gets the nod to start his third season of Test rugby, there is disappointment for centre partner Ben Cairns who drops out.

But Robinson made it clear the door would be left ajar for Cairns, saying: "I have spoken with Ben and plan to meet with him face-to-face. We've talked through a number of issues. There's competition in his position where Max Evans and Graeme Morrison have been playing well and Nick De Luca has been consistent. I'll give him a number of pointers."

Those returning after missing the Autumn Tests through injury include Gloucester prop Alasdair Dickinson.

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Attached to the squad but not in consideration for the French visit are the Edinburgh trio of injured scrum half Mike Blair, utility back Jim Thompson and flanker Ross Rennie. Uncapped Glasgow prop Jon Welsh is also being integrated on the same basis.

Scotland Six Nations squad


John Barclay (Glasgow)

Johnnie Beattie (Glasgow)

Kelly Brown (Glasgow)

Alasdair Dickinson (Gloucester)

Ross Ford (Edinburgh)

Richie Gray (Glasgow)

Dougie Hall (Glasgow)

Jim Hamilton (Edinburgh)

Nathan Hines (Leinster)

Allan Jacobsen (Edinburgh)

Alastair Kellock (Glasgow)

Scott Lawson (Gloucester)

Moray Low (Glasgow)

Alan MacDonald (Edinburgh)

Euan Murray (Northampton)

Alasdair Strokosch (Gloucester)


Chris Cusiter (Glasgow)

Simon Danielli (Ulster)

Nick De Luca (Edinburgh)

Max Evans (Glasgow)

Thom Evans (Glasgow)

Phil Godman (Edinburgh)

Alex Grove (Worcester)

Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow)

Sean Lamont (Scarlets)

Rory Lawson (Gloucester)

Graeme Morrison (Glasgow)

Dan Parks (Glasgow)

Chris Paterson (Edinburgh)

Hugo Southwell (Stade Francais)

• INVITED to training: Mike Blair (Edinburgh), Ross Rennie (Edinburgh), Jim Thompson (Edinburgh), Jon Welsh (Glasgow).