THE No 10 slot has been a problem for Scotland in recent years and after the defeat to Ireland I’d like to see Duncan Weir become involved with the senior squad.
Ruaridh Jackson looked nervous on his first Test start, and given he was brought in to play flat it’s ironic that he kicked a lot in the first 20 minutes, and often not well. He chose a lot of wrong options and though Dan Parks did attack the line when he came on, I’d like to see Weir given a chance before the World Cup.
Weir, 19, kicks as long and as accurately as Parks, he tackles hard, and he’ll have a dig at the line. He can manage a game really well and best of all he’s not the sort of guy to be fazed by anything – he brushes off setbacks. His distribution needs to improve but in the long term I believe he’ll be a better player than Jackson, his 23-year-old colleague at Glasgow.
After all the hype and optimism of the autumn, Scotland haven’t delivered in this Six Nations. Unforced errors are killing us and, despite Paris, we still can’t score tries. Our last championship try at Murrayfield was by Scott Gray against Italy more than two years ago.
There’s no real structure, especially in attack, and we aren’t generating the quick ball needed for guys like Nikki Walker and Max Evans. Ireland created lots of opportunities against us through dummy runners or the back three linking from deep; we don’t seem to have that ability, or indeed an understanding of individual roles.
Injured centre Graeme Morrison is becoming a better player just by not playing. Sean Lamont was moved to 12 to give us go-forward but he’s never going to offload because he doesn’t have the skill set needed in a tight midfield. The first try we conceded to Ireland, when Lamont and Nick De Luca went for the same player, was a shocker. We don’t know what our best midfield pairing is but history shows that the best partnerships – Carling and Guscott, O’Driscoll and D’Arcy, Scott Hastings and Lineen – are given time to gel. So let’s choose two guys and start them against England and Italy. I’d also start Scott Lawson because Ross Ford isn’t on top of his game.
To have a chance of beating England we’ll have to be virtually error-free. England have a powerful pack, dynamic back row and a potent back three in which Chris Ashton runs great gamble lines. You can’t mark him because his best work, his tracking, is done without the ball. If I scored tries like he does I’d be swallow-diving too!
Scotland’s strength is the lineout and we must restore Parks at ten and play behind England, putting pressure on their throwers. Richie Gray has been a revelation – he’s physical, turns over ball, carries ball, cover-tackles, spoils opposition lineout ball. He’s been our best player of the tournament.
Scotland haven’t won at Twickenham since 1983.
I drew one and lost four Tests there, though in one we led 6-3 when I went off with a broken arm, so that’s a moral victory! But if we can cut the errors and get our lineout right then don’t write us off.
This article appeared in the April 2011 issue of Rugby World Magazine
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