There are some big decisions for Andy Robinson to make in the next few weeks, as he prepares for the RBS 6 Nations.
Scotland’s World Cup has to be seen as a failure, so there must be some changes. There is no lack of effort, but our inability to score tries is a huge, huge problem. We only scored four at the World Cup, all against Romania. We must get some cutting edge, like Edinburgh have been showing.
At stand-off I think it’s time to forget Dan Parks and I’m not 100% sure about Ruaridh Jackson. Harry Leonard at Edinburgh and Glasgow’s Duncan Weir are showing consistency and getting experience and the next step is to bring them into the national squad. They’re only 19 and 20 years of age, but a lot of good fly-halves come through at that age, although if you bring in a young guy you have to give them a run of games.
The centres at the moment aren’t great distributors and we need to get our back three on the ball and playing. Injecting some young talent into the back-line is a way forward. Not three or four at a time, but a new player here and there would freshen things up and get more flair and cutting edge and invention into the team. There are several young guys playing well for Edinburgh, such as Matt Scott, James King and Lee Jones.
There have been great expectations for Scotland to do well in the past couple of Six Nations and they haven’t come to fruition. I know Andy Robinson is as desperate as anyone to make it work. He should look at who is playing well for their club because we want players in the team that are full of confidence.
If Andy wants to win games, will he be tempted to go with a conservative kicking game? Weir is a very good kicking stand-off and likes to have a bit of a run too. He has to improve his distribution and get the right mix of kicking and running with the ball, but he’s full of confidence and has a great temperament. I coached him at U20s level and he’s keen to learn and will listen. He’s ahead of Jackson.
I like what I’ve seen of Leonard and Matt Scott as well. Scott was a ten but I felt his best position was 12 because kicking wasn’t a real strength of his. He has put some weight and size on and he’s a fine passer and can get a back-line moving really well. Tim Visser will qualify for Scotland next summer and he’s a real attacking threat, so to have him on the wing for Scotland would be a great asset.
One player who won’t be involved in the Six Nations is lock Nathan Hines and he’ll be missed. The players looked up to him – and not just because he’s tall! He has a lot of knowledge and the guys at Leinster say he was a really big influence when he was there and they’re still missing him.
I think the Scottish public are still with Andy Robinson. He’s a very good coach. Our defence has been pretty solid and the forwards have competed against most teams – although we miss Euan Murray for the Sunday games, of which we have two this spring. We just need to improve our cutting edge.
This article appeared in the January 2012 issue of Rugby World Magazine.
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