Gregor Townsend left with Scotland winger conundrum after star performances against Tonga

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend will have to solve a welcome conundrum when he selects his team to face Australia this weekend after stellar performances from Rufus McLean and Kyle Steyn against Tonga pushed themselves into contention for starting spots on the wing.

Kyle Steyn scored four tries for Scotland against Tonga.
Kyle Steyn scored four tries for Scotland against Tonga.

The Glasgow duo were handed starts in Scotland’s opening Autumn Nations Series clash against the Pacific Islanders at BT Murrayfield, with the hosts triumphing 60-14. Steyn, in only his second appearance, scored four tries – the first Scotland player to do so at Murrayfield – while debutant McLean crossed the whitewash twice in the opening 14 minutes in an exciting display.

Steyn and McLean benefitted from Duhan van der Merwe not being permitted to play as the Tonga match fell outside the international window, but the British and Irish Lion scored twice for his club Worcester while Scotland were in action and is widely expected to return to the starting XV against the Wallabies.

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Darcy Graham – usually a winger – played full-back against the Tongans, but with Stuart Hogg available next weekend, the captain is a near-certainty to feature from the beginning, meaning Graham, McLean and Steyn are very likely to be fighting it out for the remaining winger berth.

Rufus McLean was impressive on debut for Scotland.

Townsend is delighted to have such options in the wide areas and when asked if competition for places in the team is as good as Scotland has known it, the coach pointed out the situation with his wingers.

“There are certain positions, winger for example, where that’s 100 per cent correct,” said Townsend.

“We had three wingers against Tonga, one at full-back, who played really well.

“We’ve been without Sean Maitland, over 50 caps, Byron McGuigan who has done really well for us, Duhan van der Merwe.

Duhan van der Merwe bagged two tries for Worcester while Scotland were in action.

“So that’s a position that’s really evolved for us.”

Townsend will hope that there will be no injuries ahead of a full week’s training to prepare for the visit of Australia.

Back-rower Hamish Watson – who only had two weeks of preparation after a summer tour with the Lions – was replaced at half time, while McLean was taken off due to tightness in his calves.

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