SCOTLAND coach Scott Johnson has hailed the quadrangular tournament featuring hosts South Africa, Samoa, Italy and his side as being a new way forward for international rugby.
Johnson yesterday named his first tour team for Saturday’s opening match in Durban against Samoa, in what will be the first of three Saturday double-headers, handing new caps to Edinburgh full-back Greig Tonks and Glasgow duo Alex Dunbar and Pat MacArthur.
This tour, said Johnson, was about uncovering fresh depth in the national squad and so that trio will be joined by more new caps as the weeks roll on.
Under former coach Andy Robinson, the SRU turned down the chance to face the big southern hemisphere nations in three-Test tours.
Robinson insisted that they could be disastrous for a country with Scotland’s resources at the end of a long season.
However, interim head coach Johnson now feels that facing South Africa and Samoa – in the third week the top two and bottom two in the table will meet each other – is an ideal blend of summer Tests.
“I think it’s a great tournament and something that rugby needs,” he said. “With professionalism coming into the game I think we’ve lost a bit of the old values, like sitting with the opposition and chatting.
“I’m hoping to take the opportunity to let our guys do that and sit with their opponents on the flights, and just enjoy each other’s company.
“For some of our younger guys that’s really important because for me, speaking as an old rugby player, some of my greatest friends come from the era I played rugby in, and I think that’s somewhat lacking now.
“So, I really like the energy this tournament brings. It’s a nice blend of the old and new.”