Versatile Paterson back in the centres
January 29, 2000
Chris Paterson will be shunted into the centres again tomorrow as Edinburgh Reivers continue their total rugby strategy against Dunvant at Inverleith.
The 21-year-old former Gala man was selected at fly-half by Scotland A for the clash with Italy in Colleferro next Friday and won his first full cap at full-back against Spain in the World Cup.
But Reivers coach Ian Rankin believes Paterson's versatility is vital in the modern game.
"It is difficult for Chris because in Duncan Hodge we have Scotland's second-choice stand-off," said Rankin.
"But apart from set-piece play, movement within the team is fairly flexible.
"You need to pop up in all sorts of positions to put pressure on your opponents, and Chris also has the benefit of learning from Duncan.
"Even Gregor Townsend had to play in the centres when he was at Northampton, and I'm sure Chris would prefer to be on the field than watching from the replacements' bench."
With Graham Shiel and Martin Leslie injured, number eight Carl Hogg captains the Scottish side as they bid to bounce back from their mauling by Glasgow Caledonians last week.
Conan Sharman, Matthew Proudfoot and Ian Fairley are all dropped as Rankin looks to find the winning formula against one of the lesser Welsh teams.
Dunvant have improved marginally following their dismal European Shield campaign but the home side would be hugely disappointed if they were unable to glean maximum points from a fixture rescheduled because of this weekend's Welsh international trial.
One of the few redeeming features of the Glasgow debacle was the continued impressive form of second-row duo Andy Lucking and Iain Fullarton.
Both men have been solid in the line out, but it is their loose play which has raised most eyebrows.
At times, they have almost become auxiliary centres, breaking defences and galloping down the touchline.
"They are both in the modern mode," said Rankin.
"They are quite mobile and like to get the ball in their hands.
"Andy Lucking deserves particular praise because he was out for almost a year with a shoulder injury.
"He has managed to get a few games under his belt and is looking pretty good.
"In some ways he reminds me of Scott Murray and Stuart Grimes in the way he can break down defences, but obviously they both have a long way to go before they reach that standard."