Junior World Trophy: Scotland U20s ready for Zimbabwe challenge despite civil unrest

Head coach Kenny Murray names his side for opening match of campaign

Jerry Blyth-Lafferty gets the nod ahead of Corey Tait at hooker for Scotland Under-20s versus Zimbabwe on Saturday morning. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Jerry Blyth-Lafferty gets the nod ahead of Corey Tait at hooker for Scotland Under-20s versus Zimbabwe on Saturday morning. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

KENNY MURRAY says his Scotland Under-20s team will be ready to hit the ground running when they kick-off their Junior World Trophy campaign against Zimbabwe on Saturday morning [kick-off 8am BST], despite the squad being forced to spend the first part of the week holed-up in their hotel due to civil unrest on the streets of Nairobi.

“The first few days [in Kenya] was interesting because there was some civil unrest due to politics, so all the teams were put into lockdown in their hotel,” explained the head coach. “We had to adapt our training for that, but we managed to get out today and train at a local university which was good.

“It is obviously a bit different from what we’re used to in terms of the playing surface, but we’ve had to get on with it and we’re enjoying it.

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“It has been an interesting first couple of days, I have to say. We found out last night there were some deaths and there had been rioting, but we’re all good. There has been no problems here at the hotel. It’s been the same for all the teams.”

Murray named his starting XV and replacements for Saturday’s match at lunchtime today and insists that he is unconcerned about injury having deprived the team of three of its most experienced players in centre Duncan Munn (who co-captained the side during the Six Nations), stand-0ff Richie Simpson and back-row Rudi Brown.

“You obviously want to have as many of your best players as possible available for selection but you can only control what you can control, so once guys are injured then you need to move on and get the guys who are involved prepared as well as you can,” he reasoned.

“Andy McLean has come in and looked good running at 10 in training and he played there for Scotland Under-18s last year so he has a lot of experience. We have Jonny Morris covering the back-row on the bench and Sam Derrick starting at No 8, who have both played a lot of Super Series. So, we have no issues at all about the players we are sending out there.

“It is a step into the unknown but we’ve done our best to prepare the best we can,” he added. “We got video footage of the teams we’re playing against so have learned a lot through watching that, and we obviously had a warm-up game against Spain [who are in the opposite pool] a couple of weeks ago, which gave us an idea of the sort of level we are up against.

“It’s obviously a bit different from the Six Nations, on and off the field, but I think we’ve trained well over the last few weeks and we’ve previews the opposition so I think we’re in a good place.

“Zimbabwe are a really good transition team,” he concluded. “They come alive of counter-attack and some real good threats with a lot of gas in the wide channels. Their best players are probably their 12 and their No 8, who I believe has signed for Stade Francais or one of the other big French clubs. They’ve gone 12 or 13 games without losing, they played the senior Zimbabwe A side last weekend and beat them, so they are going to be a really tough opposition who we will have to be at our best against.”

Scotland will also take on USA next Thursday and Uruguay the following Tuesday in the pool stage of this tournament, and are looking to qualify top of the pile in order to reach the final against one of Spain, Samoa, Kenya or Hong Kong on 30th July, which they must then win in order to secure promotion back to the top tier Junior World Championship next season.


Scotland U20s (v Zimbabwe at Nyayo National Stadium, Nairobi, Kenya, on Saturday @ 8am BST): D King; F Douglas, B Salmon, K Yule, G Gwynn; A McLean, B Afshar (co-captain); C Davidson, J Blyth-Lafferty, C Norrie, E Erskine, J Parkinson, L McConnell (co-captain), J Smith, S Derrick. Substitutes: C Tait, M Surry, O Minnis, R Hart, J Morris, F Burgess, F Thomson, M Reid.

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About David Barnes 4026 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


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