Jamie Ritchie return gives Scotland 'good chance' of winning Six Nations as Ali Price Glasgow recall option downplayed
Ritchie will make his return from injury on Friday night when Edinburgh take on the Vodacom Bulls at Hive Stadium. It’s his first outing for Everitt who took over at Edinburgh in the summer. The new coach removed the club captaincy from Ritchie to free him up to concentrate on his rugby but the flanker remains Scotland skipper and Everitt said he had continued to take a leadership role at Edinburgh.
“Jamie has been really good at training,” said Everitt. “He’s a true professional and that’s one of the reasons why he is captain of Scotland. He leads from the front. Not having the [Edinburgh] captaincy allows him to focus on his game and the job at hand which bodes well for Scottish rugby, because if he’s in form going into the Six Nations, Scotland have a good chance of winning the Six Nations.
“He’s been amazing in terms of his input in team meetings and my personal interactions with him have been great. We are coaches, but he has played many international games and we can also learn from a guy like that. Everyone has a lot of respect for him and he’s raring to go and pay back to the club.”
Ritchie has not played since being forced off with a shoulder injury in the 20th minute of Scotland’s defeat by Ireland in the decisive Pool B game in Paris last month. It brought the curtain down on a disappointing World Cup for the Scots who also lost to South Africa. It was a tough draw but Scotland had enjoyed a good build-up to the tournament, beating Italy, France and Georgia at home, and losing narrowly to the French in Saint-Etienne.
“Sometimes when you lose a game like they did in the last pool match at the World Cup, there is a lot of doubt,” added Everitt. “But you’ve got to look back to a few weeks prior to the World Cup and see the form the team was in. Jamie was in that form as well. We must not judge players on their last game. I know there’s a saying that you’re only as good as your last game but we’ve got to look at the form that Scotland took into the World Cup and he was definitely leading from the front there.”
Ritchie’s inclusion - he replaces Tom Dodd in the back row - is one of three changes made by Everitt. WP Nel takes over from Javan Sebastian as tighthead prop and Ben Vellacott comes in for Charlie Shiel at scrum-half. Ali Price is named on the bench and is likely to make his Edinburgh debut following his surprise loan move from Glasgow Warriors.
Everitt played down the suggestion that Glasgow may be able to recall Price if they suffer a spate of injuries at scrum-half. “I’m not aware of that,” said the coach. Jamie Dobie, one of three senior nines on Glasgow’s books, was crocked in last weekend’s win over Ospreys, two days after the Price switch was announced. “I know Jamie Dobie got injured on Saturday but we’ve received no calls from Glasgow yet,” added Everitt.
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