Six Nations – Based on the odds of getting blood from a stone greater than the odds of Gregor Townsend getting a player from Scotland Rugby’s minor structure, the Scotland coach has thrown down the net in his search for post-World Cup options.
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What is required now is what has been required for years: a ball-playing behemoth up front, an uncompromising lock or back row, a colossus of Scottish standards, raised on raw ostrich in the wilds of Potchefstroom, South Africa. Ideally there are two of them.
Alas, the monster was not found. Townsend’s Six Nations team will look familiar when its name is called on Tuesday. This time last year Townsend included former England striker Ruaridh McConnochie in his squad, so don’t discount the bad luck. There is usually one, maybe more. McConnochie or, in previous years, Ratu Tagiv, Jake Kerr, Nathan Fowles.
Typically, choosing true left field comes down to injuries elsewhere. They come and go, but the core of the squad remains the same.
Matt Fagerson is back but we’re still waiting for forwards Jack Dempsey and Rory Darge to return. Jonny Gray is close, but are you really going to throw a 29-year-old into the Six Nations without being able to play Exeter rugby for what seems like an eternity?
Front Row Challenges ahead of Six Nations
Cameron Henderson, the Leicester Tigers player who could have made the game interesting, has left this season. So does Ollie Smith. Townsend now has one natural defender left in Blair Kinghorn. However, Huw Jones and Kyle Stein, who will return soon, are versatile enough to be replaced.
Bolters? There is talk of Tom Roebuck and Aaron Reid, the Sale Sharks forwards. The conversation with Fin Smith has been going on for ages. It’s time for the Northampton Saints midfielder to make a decision.
Sale scrum-half Gus Warr is another on the debate list. Townsend has three number nines in Ben White, Ali Price and George Horne. Does he really need a fourth?
While some of his colleagues are having to make selection decisions because of players who have graduated in recent months, Townsend’s options are limited. He couldn’t have been more pleased with Edinburgh’s dismal defeat at home to Gloucester on Saturday night, a side on a record losing streak in their domestic league. There were at least 10 players in Edinburgh’s squad who will appear on Townsend’s list on Tuesday.
A taut head is an area that continues to cause heart palpitations. Zander Fagerson and W. P. Nel are again the first candidates. Fagerson is amazing, but Nel, a professional model, turns 38 in April. He’s still crafty, still capable of getting the job done, but the fact that no other player has been able to take his place on the bench reflects the player’s broken trajectory.
New Faces and Positional Battles:
Scotland will have a competitive starting line-up and a reasonable bench, but any talk of strength in depth has always been a bit overblown. You can also read George Ford Set to Be Fit for Six Nations 2024 After Injury Setback.
That’s why you couldn’t imagine them challenging for the title, despite Ireland now living in the post-Johnny Sexton era (Mc Hansen, a hugely important striker, will miss the tournament through injury) and despite France remaining without Antoine. Dupont and Romain Ntamack, their main playmakers.
Scotland will cause ripples, but not waves. Not unless they find something impressive in their training camp. They have Wales in first place. Trip to Cardiff. Beautiful. It’s been 22 years since Scotland won there. Take away Wales and a revaluation may be necessary. Townsend will have to choose between Jones and Cameron Redpath as midfielder Sione Tuipulotu. Redpath is playing well for Bath and Jones may be more valuable as cover on the bench, so maybe that’s the case.
Northampton’s Rory Hutchinson deserves a call-up. Hutchinson is a great player, but this has never happened to him on the international stage. Can Glasgow Warriors lock down Scott Cummings and split the partnership of Richie Gray and Grant Gilchrist? Maybe. He’s in shape and has some much-needed dog in him. He seems to have gotten better this season.
The back row is an area of intrigue. Andy Christie is challenging Saracens with his form. Magnus Bradbury – remember him? – was Bristol’s player of the year last season. At his best, Bradbury, big and strong, is an indispensable player for the team, but his international career has fizzled out. The speed of work, or rather its insufficiency, was the problem that haunted him.
Six Nations – Bradbury’s Potential Return:
If you had the world’s biggest missile and shot him in the ass with some bullets to get him going, Scotland would have a damn good player. His natural ability is top-notch, but he is now 28 years old and has not played for his country since defeat to Argentina in 2022. If there is a Bradbury 2.0, then he better moves on.
This will be Townsend’s seventh game in the Six Nations and he has named provisional squads of 35-40 players in the past. The racing confidence is that they will make great tries and create great chances, but it is how they come to grips with their ugly side that will determine their fate.
Defense wins. Scotland’s defense against top players has deteriorated in recent seasons. They know how to draw beautiful pictures. Taking on more attractive opponents and outfighting them is another trick.
Evidence from the World Cup has once again shown that they are lacking in this regard – unless Townsend really has found the right beast to unleash on Tuesday. Scotland are good, but are they good enough? The final test of their worth is fast approaching.
Glen Young keeps fingers crossed ahead of Scotland Six Nations squad announcement
Glen Young is keeping his fingers crossed that he will receive a call from Gregor Townsend on Monday evening before the Scotland boss names his Six Nations squad on Tuesday. The 29-year-old won the last of his three caps as a substitute in the 52-29 win over Argentina in 2022, but his form for Edinburgh under Sean Everitt suggests he is likely to be in Townsend’s field of view. Young played in all 12 of Edinburgh’s official matches this season, starting 10 of them, and was one of the club’s most consistent performers, playing alongside captain Grant Gilchrist in the second row.
Asked about the possibility of a Scotland recall, Young said: Hopefully, fingers crossed. I’ve said it since the start of the season: I’m going to concentrate on playing as much as I can for Edinburgh. I love playing here and if I play as well as I can, who knows, it could happen. But I’m going to concentrate on playing here because I really enjoy it and if it happens, I’ll be very happy.
Positional Switch and Scoring Success:
Young deployed on the blindside wing in Saturday’s Challenge Cup tie against Gloucester and although he is unable to prevent Edinburgh’s slide to a 21-20 defeat at the hands of the Hive, he put in another good performance which included a try first half, slipping into the center of the field. corner.
“I think I had a 10-15-meter head start on [Gloucester wing] Jonny May and he almost cornered me, so I’ll have to work on my finishing! He said. Playing in the back row gives you a better chance of getting into the wide lane, so I was really happy to get over the line.”
Young had recently replaced six players but this was his first start of the season and he was grateful for the help from his colleagues in the back line. Of course, it’s a little difficult, but I’ve had Bill Mata and Hamish Watson helping me all week. They kept me in order.
Everitt saw the Challenge Cup as a competition Edinburgh could win, but they are now clinging to fourth place in Group C ahead of the final round of group matches. They need a top-four finish to qualify for the last 16 and while their fate remains in their own hands, their chances of a home draw in the first round of the play-offs are diminishing.
Six Nations – Player Performances and Scotland’s Prospects
A bonus-point win away to the Scarlets on Friday will guarantee qualification and they could even lose and go through if the Black Lion win nothing against Clermont on Saturday, but Everitt will be reluctant to rely on others.
The newly appointed head coach looked disappointed after the game against Gloucester after his side worked hard to get back into the game. Second-half tries from substitutes Ewen Ashman and Ben Vellacott turned an 8-14 deficit into a 20-14 lead with 11 minutes remaining, but Gloucester finished strong with Zach Mercer pouncing on a late try converted by Adam Hastings.
Mercer is another player Townsend could interested in, as is Hastings, who was a confident 11-point scorer for Gloucester. The highlight of the match was a stunning solo try from Wales international Louis Rees-Zammit at full-back for the visitors, a timely reminder of his talents ahead of Scotland’s opening Six Nations match in Cardiff on 3 February.
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