Rugby World Cup 2011
Robinson salutes Kellock's character
September 21, 2011
Scotland boss Andy Robinson had a difficult decision to make regarding captain Alastair Kellock © PA Photos
Scotland head coach Andy Robinson has praised Alastair Kellock for the way in which the lock reacted to the news that he would play no part in this weekend's pivotal Rugby World Cup clash with Argentina in Wellington.
Kellock skippered the Scots in their tournament opener against Romania but he, like a number of other players on the day, performed poorly and was omitted from the 22 for last weekend's clash with Georgia. It had been expected that Kellock would return for the meeting with the Pumas but the Scotland captain has again been left out of the match-day squad, with Robinson recalling Richie Gray to start alongside Jim Hamilton in the second-row and the versatile Nathan Hines being selected to provide cover from the bench.
"This is phase two of our operation in this World Cup and we've got two games to win," Robinson said. "We looked at picking a team to beat Argentina. That was the sole focus.
"When it comes to selections, any player that's been left out I found tough to do because every one of the players has put their hand up and for every single one of the players I could make a justification of why they should play for Scotland in this game. To be fair to Al, as always, he's taken it very well. He's an outstanding character."
Robinson also felt that Gray full warranted his place in the starting line-up. "I believe Richie Gray is an outstanding second-row forward and has that ability to work for us in open play," the former England boss said.
Robinson explained that the decision to retain the services of Jim Hamilton, meanwhile, had been influenced by the unavailability of Euan Murray, who will not play on Sundays for religious reasons. Geoff Cross will fill the void at tight-head and while Robinson has the utmost faith in the Edinburgh prop, he felt that he would require strong support in the set-piece.
"The right-hand side of the scrum is an important area for us - Euan is our best scrummager; Euan is not playing in this game," he said. "We'll need some real weight behind Geoff Cross on the right-hand side and that's what Jim Hamilton gives."
Elsewhere, there are recalls to the back-line for fullback Chris Paterson and fly-half Ruaridh Jackson, who takes over at fly-half from Dan Parks. The latter was Scotland's match-winner against Georgia but Robinson believes Jackson is the more suitable option at ten this weekend.
"Ruaridh has very good ability to challenge the line and go to defences," he said. "We believe going into this game it's important for us to play with the ball in hand, as well as have a balanced game of kicking.
"We want to bring our dangerous runners - Max Evans, Sean Lamont, Chris Paterson, Graeme Morrison - into the game."
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