Scotland hooker Fraser Brown swaps front row for flanker role

Hooker/flanker Fraser Brown during Scotland training. Picture: �Fotosport/David Gibson
Hooker/flanker Fraser Brown during Scotland training. Picture: �Fotosport/David Gibson
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Scotland will deploy Glasgow hooker Fraser Brown at openside flanker against Argentina in Resistencia tomorrow as they bid to end the summer tour on a winning note.

The 29-year-old has made sporadic appearances in the back row throughout his career and two of his 33 caps have been at No 7 – as a replacement against the USA in the last Rugby World Cup, and again off the bench in the 30-29 defeat by the same opponents last weekend.

His selection by head coach Gregor Townsend is partly designed to bring more experience to a pack who lost their way at times in Houston.

The switch has been made possible by the availability of Edinburgh hooker and tour captain Stuart McInally, who is back in the team after missing out against Canada and the USA because of a calf strain.

But, as Townsend explained yesterday, Brown playing in the back row could also be a longer-term option for the team.

McInally remains first-choice hooker when fit, George Turner has come through well on tour, and Ross Ford is expected to resume playing soon after a lengthy injury-enforced absence, so there is strength in depth at the position. And, with a squad of just 31 allowed at the World Cup, versatility will be a vital asset.

The head coach said: “Ross is back fully fit now and we really hope that he gets back to match fitness and plays really well to give us more depth at hooker.

“George has had more game time than probably he would have expected or we would have expected on this tour, given he’s up against Stuart and Fraser, and he’s done pretty well.

“We believe we’ve got some good openside depth that aren’t on tour, and again that’s a relevant point - Hamish Watson, John Barclay, John Hardie, other guys coming through. But when you put a World Cup squad together, we will be looking at ‘Right, is that an option in one of the games for someone else in that position?’

“And positions are more fluid now. Stuart has been brilliant at hooker this year - he was a back row for most of his career. Around the tackle area, hookers now have to be as good as opensides, and we know Fraser is.”