Robinson ponders squad selection
September 22, 2009
Former England coach Andy Robinson took charge of the Scotland side earlier this year © Getty Images
Scotland coach Andy Robinson has hinted that a mix of old and new names will make his squad for the November clashes with Fiji, Australia and Argentina.
Robinson, who agreed a three-year deal with the Scottish Rugby Union in June this year, has been impressed by the early season form of many of his leading players - some of whom have helped propel Edinburgh and Glasgow to the top of the Magners League. But he has also praised his overseas-based players in a clear indication that they remain in the selection mix.
"We've watched a lot of games; we've watched all the French games and it's been pleasing to see how our guys have been going down there," Robinson told PA Sport, highlighting the impact fullback Rory Lamont and flanker Jason White have made since moving to Toulon and Clermont Auvergne, respectively. "It's important that these guys are going to a foreign land and are performing well."
Robinson has been similarly enthused by the displays of a number of uncapped players, who can also expect a call-up if they can maintain their strong start to the season.
The former England coach singled out Worcester centre Alex Grove, Edinburgh trio Roddy Grant (flanker), John Houston (centre) and Mark Robertson (wing), and Glasgow prop Jon Welsh, who has been hailed as the find of the season. Grove and Houston were part of last month's 44-man training squad at St Andrews.
But the addition of other new faces will not necessarily involve axing players, according to Robinson, who nevertheless warned form would be a key element of selection.
"We've had a squad of 44 and now it's adding players going forward," he said. "We've got to take into consideration injuries but I'd like to think that the players who are putting their hands up will get selected."
One of those had been Glasgow starlet Ruaridh Jackson, widely regarded as the brightest young prospect in Scotland. But the 21-year-old fly-half has been ruled out for up to three months with a shoulder injury and Robinson today hinted he definitely would have played a part in the November Tests.
"It's unfortunate he's not fit with the lack of depth in our 10 position," Robinson said. "Obviously with the talent Ruaridh has, he's certainly one for the future and we wish him a speedy recovery. No doubt in a few months' time, when he's back playing and playing well for Glasgow, he'll be in consideration for the squad."
Robinson has repeatedly refused to elaborate on the future of Simon Taylor in recent weeks and refused to be drawn on the issue. Stade Francais forward Taylor asked not to be selected for last month's Scotland training camp before suffering a broken foot that is expected to keep him out for another two months.
Robinson also declined to confirm whether Mike Blair would retain the captaincy, despite appointing the scrum-half his skipper while at Edinburgh last season. Blair has yet to start a game this term after being rested following the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa.
But that has not stopped Edinburgh making a 100% start to the Magners League under Robinson's replacement, Rob Moffat. Their form has come as no surprise to his predecessor, who led them to second place last season.
"I'm not surprised at all, they have some quality players there," Robinson said. "They have the ability to win any game that they play, similar to Glasgow. It's about delivery, though, and they'll be under a bit of pressure over the next couple of weeks to maintain their performances."