Kelly Brown: South Africa rest was right call

Kelly Brown: Rest against South Africa was right call. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Kelly Brown: Rest against South Africa was right call. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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Scotland captain Kelly Brown says head coach Scott Johnson made the right call when he rested him for last weekend’s 28-point thrashing to South Africa.

While the Dark Blues were receiving a punishing four-try 28-0 lesson from the Springboks, the skipper was putting his feet up in the Murrayfield stands.

But the Saracens back-row forward insists at 31, there is no way he can play in every single match through a long season of both club and international rugby and Johnson’s call was the right one to get him ready to face Australia this Saturday.

“I think the week off was beneficial,” he said. “I feel fresh and I’m raring to go. But it is very hard to miss out on big matches. If you ask any player if he wants to play in every game, of course he will say ‘yes’.

“I completely understood the coaches’ reasoning and I’m ready to go for Saturday.

“I’m now into my 30s and I need to make sure that I manage myself well, that I eat well and that I do all the necessary recovery work and that sort of stuff.

“I work very hard on that sort of stuff. As I tell my wife, my rest is an incredibly important part of my job - not that I’m sure she sees it that way.

“I need to do it though because I need to look after my body and make sure I’m in the best shape I can be. It’s something that you learn as you get older and get to understand the importance of it all.

“At Saracens we have a rotation policy. I will maybe play a couple of games, then go on the bench for one and then sit out the next before coming back in. It’s all part of the plan to make sure that come the business end of the season, the semis and the finals, all the squad is fresh.

“It’s very, very hard for a player to play every week from the beginning of the season. By the end, you would be pretty tired and not at your best.”

However, the former Glasgow flanker admits it was not easy watching his team-mates suffer against the Boks.

He said: “It’s never great seeing your team-mates lose and I’m not great watching games anyway. It’s a lot more nerve-racking than being out on the pitch.

“But I’m looking forward to getting back out there this week.

“It’s been well-documented that we put ourselves under pressure, especially in the first 20 minutes. But in saying that, the South Africans really made us pay for any mistakes we did make.

“We have looked at that, the mistakes in our set-piece, and we hope to cut out those errors. If we can do that, then I’m sure we can put Australia under pressure.

“All we can do is learn our lessons. That match with the Springboks is in the past now and yes it wasn’t a great day. But we’ve looked at the video and we feel we have learned from it.

The Australians will come to Edinburgh hoping to avenge last year’s surprise 9-6 win for the Scots in Newcastle and Brown admits the opposition on Saturday will present a different set of problems to the South African’s battering-ram approach.

“It’s massively different challenge,” he said. “They are a side who like to play with really fast ball and they have some incredibly dangerous runners outside, so we have to impose ourselves on them.

“We have to try and slow them down and as always, the breakdown will be key.

“We know we can beat them and if you watch the game last year, it was based on incredible defence and guts. It will be tough again but we just need to make sure we get our part right.”

Meanwhile, Scotland have been forced to make a change to their pack for the Wallabies encounter, with Glasgow’s Tim Swinson ruled out with a chest injury. Grant Gilchrist, the 23-year-old Edinburgh Rugby lock, steps up to win his fourth cap.