Scotland’s Autumn Test squad: Finn Russell omitted, Jamie Ritchie captain and Jack Dempsey called up

Dempsey is one of three uncapped players in squad alongside his Glasgow Warriors team-mates Stafford McDowall and Murphy Walker

Finn Russell and Gregor Townsend. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Finn Russell and Gregor Townsend. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

GREGOR TOWNSEND has left Finn Russell out of his 40-strong training squad for Scotland’s four-match Autumn Test schedule, with Blair Kinghorn, Adam Hastings and Ross Thompson the three stand-offs named in the group ahead of the Racing 92 maverick playmaker.

Meanwhile, Glasgow Warriors No 8 Jack Dempsey – who played 14 times times by Australia between June 2017 and 11th October 2019 – is named in the group, having qualified through World Rugby’s new birthright transfer rules, which allows a capped player to switch allegiance to another country they are eligible to play for following a three-year cooling off period.

There are two other uncapped players in the group in Glasgow Warriors pair Stafford McDowall and Murphy Walker, while Jamie Ritchie of Edinburgh takes over from Stuart Hogg as captain, while Warriors second-row Richie Gray returns to the squad for the first time since the 2021 Six Nations.


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“It’s really to reward form and consistency,” said Townsend of his stand-off selection. “Blair has really developed as a 10 since he moved there over a year ago, and had a very good tour, got better and better during the summer, and he’s played really well for Edinburgh this year. Adam has really responded well to being left out the squad last season, he was going to tour but picked up an injury, and he’s been in very good form with his club. Gloucester, this year. With Ross, he hasn’t played as many games but obviously had an excellent season with Glasgow last year.

“So, those are the three players that we are backing for this campaign. For someone like Finn Russell who has missed out on the squad, as someone who had has played a lot of games for us in the past, it is challenge for him to show his form and consistency over the next few weeks.”

Townsend was clearly keen to play down the significance of handing the captaincy to Ritchie in terms of how that impacts Hogg’s place in the squad.

“It is a real positive that Jamie is captaining Edinburgh at the moment,” said the coach “He’s a very competitive player who has been one of our key players over the last few years. With him being back fit, this is a great opportunity for him.

“We’ve grown leadership over the last few years, Stuart has done a very good job as captain and we see this decision bringing the best out of Stuart, who can be one of the best players in the world and certainly one of the best players in our team, and we look forward to seeing him do that over the next few weeks.”

Scotland will only be able to select their home-based players for the opening fixture of the series against Australia on 29th October as that match has been scheduled outside the international window.

 

Scotland Autumn Nations Series Squad:

  • Forwards
    • Ewan Ashman (Sale Sharks) 4 caps
    • Josh Bayliss (Bath Rugby) 3 caps
    • Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors) 22 caps
    • Dave Cherry (Edinburgh Rugby) 7 caps
    • Andy Christie (Saracens) 3 caps
    • Luke Crosbie (Edinburgh Rugby) 2 caps
    • Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors) 23 caps
    • Jack Dempsey (Glasgow Warriors) uncapped
    • Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) 24 caps
    • Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) 50 caps
    • Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby) 55 caps
    • Jonny Gray (Exeter Chiefs) 69 caps
    • Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors) 67 caps
    • Nick Haining (Edinburgh Rugby) 11 caps
    • WP Nel (Edinburgh Rugby) 48 caps
    • Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh Rugby) – CAPTAIN – 32 caps
    • Pierre Schoeman (Edinburgh Rugby) 12 caps
    • Sam Skinner (Edinburgh Rugby) 22 caps
    • Rory Sutherland (Ulster Rugby) 20 caps
    • George Turner (Glasgow Warriors) 27 caps
    • Murphy Walker (Glasgow Warriors) uncapped
    • Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby) 51 caps
  • Backs
    • Mark Bennett (Edinburgh Rugby) 27 caps
    • Darcy Graham (Edinburgh Rugby) 29 caps
    • Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby) 36 caps
    • Adam Hastings (Gloucester Rugby) 26 caps
    • Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs) 93 caps
    • George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) 17 caps
    • Damien Hoyland (Edinburgh Rugby) 4 caps
    • Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Rugby) 34 caps
    • Stafford McDowall (Glasgow Warriors) uncapped
    • Rufus McLean (Glasgow Warriors) 3 caps
    • Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) 54 caps
    • Cameron Redpath (Bath Rugby) 2 caps
    • Ollie Smith (Glasgow Warriors) 1 cap
    • Kyle Steyn (Glasgow Warriors) 5 caps
    • Ross Thompson (Glasgow Warriors) 3 caps
    • Sione Tuipulotu (Glasgow Warriors) 7 caps
    • Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh Rugby) 19 caps
    • Ben White (London Irish) 6 caps

Autumn Nations Series 2022 Fixtures:

  • Scotland v Australia, Saturday 29 October, kick-off 5.30pm, BT Murrayfield
  • Scotland v Fiji, Saturday 5 November, kick-off 1pm, BT Murrayfield
  • Scotland v New Zealand, Sunday 13 November, kick-off 2.15pm, BT Murrayfield
  • Scotland v Argentina, Saturday 19 November, kick-off 3.15pm, BT Murrayfield

Mesulame Kunavula leaves Edinburgh to join Brive

About David Barnes 3963 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.

78 Comments

  1. Replace Townsend NOW
    The coach with the best record in world club rugby is one
    a Scots name – Scott Robertson of the Crusaders who have
    won a record number of championships under him in the last
    7 years . His teams play an all court game based
    on strong , fast forwards supported by strong running skilful backs
    Many Kiwis think he should have taken the All Black job before Ian Foster .
    He has openly expressed a wish to coach internationally NOW- lets get him before England lose Jones or Wales change their coach . I liked what Vern Cotter did for Scotland and believe Robertson could do an even better job if we can get him NOW BEFORE the World Cup.

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    • Give him the Autumn fixtures – but perhaps a few exploratory talks to suitable candidates as soon as possible because if the next 4 games do not justify his selections then something has to happen.

  2. The coach with the best record in world club rugby is one
    a Scots name – Scott Robertson of the Crusaders who have
    won a record number of championships under him in the last
    7 years . His teams play an all court game based
    on strong , fast forwards supported by strong running skilful backs
    Many Kiwis think he should have taken the All Black job before Ian Foster .
    He has openly expressed a wish to coach internationally NOW- lets get him before England lose Jones or Wales change their coach . I liked what Vern Cotter did for Scotland and believe Robertson could do an even better job if we can get him NOW BEFORE the World Cup.

  3. This is another inconceivable decision in an extremely long line of bizarre decisions made by Townsend both in relation to selections and tactics over his bumpy tenure. It is almost impossible to understand how he continues to retain support from his employers which in itself is somewhat concerning. However I suspect this latest episode of turbulence has pushed even the most loyal of fanboys over the edge. There is only one possible outcome. Unfortunately we the Scottish rugby public who ultimately partly finance this farce are the ones who will continue to suffer until common sense prevails.

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  4. The omission of Russell would be less concerning if we could be certain that Hastings was to get the 10 shirt. However we know that won’t happen. BK at 10 with Hastings perhaps on the bench if he’s lucky. As others have said the error in omitting Russell has been compounded by the omission of Hutchinson. Hope for the best but expect the worst

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  5. Clearly for most of us on the outside looking in it’s difficult to understand the rationale behind the Russell omission. There are a lot of moving parts with both the SRU and Townsend and the Russell family and how much of this current saga relates to that history will probably never be known. However no matter how much obfuscation is provided by Townsend he cannot hide the fact that Russell is light years ahead of our other 10.s therefore there has to be an external reason other than on field performance for his omission. This is unacceptable in a team with very limited world class performers as we cannot simply weaken our starting 15 further for non playing reasons. This is a situation where Townsends bosses (the SRU) should be stepping in and dictating that this is not happening. The fact they have not done so leads to the conclusion they are complicit. Personally I wanted Townsend gone after the last world cup, however I accept that I was probably in a minority at that stage. It seems to me now that the bulk of the support have had enough of Townsends tenure ( and not just because of the Russell situation ) and want him gone. Under this pressure the SRU will surely have to act unless by some minor miracle the other parts of the team click and carry us to unlikely victories in the Autumn. Nothing in our recent performances suggests this will be the case.

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  6. As the Top 14 have fixtures on 29th October and 5th November, maybe there were difficulties in getting Russell’s release, but I suspect I’m being charitable, as France are playing the Aussies on the 5th November. I can only assume there has been a blunt message from Russell to Townsend re tactics, which even with my largely armchair knowledge of the game have certainly baffled me. Clearly, his omission has raised eyebrows here, to put it mildly, as have one or two who have been included in the squad, but it appears we’ll have to resign ourselves to Kinghorn getting the nod, irrespective of his performances on the pitch.

    If the long term plan is to identify the World Cup squad and Kinghorn’s going to be chosen anyway, he might as well gain some experience beforehand. I hate to think what sort of horror show might change that, but I may well be cowering behind the sofa at 2:15pm on the 13th November.

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  7. It’s all a bit unfortunate as most of us can see what is really going on. BK may well be the coming man but he does have frailties in kicking and when up against better teams loses his grip somewhat. It may be that Townsend believes he can coach those issues out of him. Who knows how long and if ever that will happen. But in the meantime why would you deliberately drop a player who in 2021 stepped into a Lions Test and showed what a world class 10 like Finn Russell can do. With all due respect I don’t think any of the Scottish 10’s picked for Autumn could do that. It must be equally frustrating for players like Hutchinson and Scott who regularly blasting it in the Premiership do not get a look in.

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  8. It’s probably the fact that friends came round ‘early doors’ and I got tucked into the Traquair 8%ers and with consummate ease moved on to the Auchentoshan that I come back to the question whirring around in my mind as to why Townsend has picked a 3rd choice that at the present doesn’t have the Pedigree of Russell and a first choice that isn’t significantly better than the supposed 2nd choice, although other opinions are available regarding those thoughts.
    Townsend saying Russell has to pick up on his form and then selecting a player who has apparently hardly played since injury, with probably an even more difficult group in the forthcoming World Cup than the last, surely this is not the time to look to the future: that exercise is after the World Cup.
    Since reading the comment that Russell has to pick up his form I took some time to look at some of the [admitted] highlights of Russell at Racing, he didn’t look to be lacking form from anything I observed, especially his kicking from the Tee knocking them over from halfway in some cases. Sometimes you have to consider is there an agenda here.
    The next 4 fixtures and the 6n’s are an opportunity to create the best possible group for the World Cup; it isn’t a time for petty point scoring or for a better description, Wild Card selections. Does anyone out there consider that on a bad day Russell is a riskier choice in the lead up to and in the world Cup than [no disrespect] Ross Thompson without game time or Kinghorn for that matter?
    There are plenty of opportunities for Kinghorn, he has shown skill but Townsend and for that matter Blair [under pressure?] want to shoehorn him into the Fly Half position when that doesn’t seem to be his natural position.
    Anyway, enough of the Endeavour to work out the machinations of Mr. Townsend and his selection criteria: up the wooden hill to blanket bay as my Mum used to say to me, but not before I’ve sipped the last of my Medicine.

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  9. I’ve been away for a few weeks and just got caught up. Is Finn Russell out the squad because he’s standing for the Tory leadership?

    That would explain everything.

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  10. Much as I like Blair as a player – not a fly half – he has not been having a stellar season so far, not bad but not special. Which make Townsend’s comment pure cant.

  11. Our opponents will be DElighted.. it is rare for Scotland to have the best pl;Ayers in the world in certain positions. Finn is surlely one. No disrespect but do you think our opponents this autumn are analysing how to combat BK, AH or RT whereas had Finn been there they would have been focussing on …..

  12. Not a lot being said about Dempsey. The farce World Rugby has made of the Laws over the years with directives that haven’t been thought through and at a later date have caused unforeseen problems, well in my opinion for what it is worth this chop and change qualification is up there with the worst.
    I know that at least he has a familial qualification but it makes a mockery of who is and who isn’t playing for HIS Country having chosen to play for Australia in the first instance. It’s only a step away from Jackie Charlton’s diktat that if he saw a player drinking a Guinness he qualified to go on the available’Sheet’.

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    • Agree with everything you say George, however to leave you on a positive note Dempsey is the best 8 we’ve had since Josh Strauss, he makes hard yards, produces front foot ball and has excellent footwork.

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      • I know it is difficult but you have to have some boundaries, where is the incentive if Scotland as a Nation is in a critical situation regarding finding and encouraging new talent from within, or even reasonable familial connections, then some ‘cast of’ from the Antipodes or SA comes in and gets the nod over a developing player, at best short sighted at worst a devaluation of the Jersey.

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        1
    • It is difficult, we were struggling for a few reasons – we found ourselves a victim of history (no empire) England/France ; The “recruitment policy” of NZ and Australia and as Gordon Strachan said issues with our DNA . Grandparents was/is fine, but this new rule has to be unanimously applied and Dempsey is a accidental consequence.

    • There will always be individual cases of allegiance switch that are open to criticism but as a change in global policy it’s a great thing to stop the exploitation of the Pacific nations and bring rugby Union into line with other sports.

      Well worth watching the documentary “Oceans Apart” to understand why it’s so important.

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  13. Really why are we surprised, Townsend ego will always come first and he is as over rated as a coach as he was a player. Everyone goes on about the Tooney flip but what about the lack of game control, inconsistent kicking, missed tackles and we go go on and on. Craig Chalmers was not flash but he controlled a game and the fact that Townsend was tried in various positions tells you all you need to know. Finn can do the flash but he also does the nitty gritty very well that Townsend could or would do. Finn does not need Scotland but Scotland certainly need him and it should be Townsend shown the door. Murphy Walker who has hardly played a senior game of rugby is in the squad whereas seasoned and quality props like McCallum and Rae who have been playing week in week out in a very tough league are not even quoted. But how silly of me to think that the nepotism within Scottish rugby was a thing of the past as Walker is Sean Lineens nephew and Kinghorn is Gregor’s vanity anti Finn project. Finally how embarrassing is it that we are picking a multi capped Australian through using the rules put in place to help the island nations. Who in their right mind would want to play for a coach who has obviously very little man management skills.

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  14. BK looks great against tired, mid-table opposition. Any time Edinburgh play a team with a recent rush defence he becomes anonymous. Just ships the ball, every time. I think he could develop into a decent enough ten, he just isn’t there yet.

    Hutchinson seems to be playing really well at Saints, and can play 12 or 13 – do not know what he needs to do to be given another shot in the blue. I was hoping for to see a back line of George Horne, Finn, Rory H (or Cam Redpath), Mark Bennett, Darcy, Duhan and Hogg.

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    • As I said a like Kinghorn but you are 100% correct David B, lacks the close quarter skill set required. Its in the loose, the open paddock that he excels but what is the plan B if the opposition are not kind enough to allow BK time and space?
      I reckon GT will play Tuipulotu at 12 Australia

    • Totally agree with all this David, would love to see those backs lining up for us. And I also don’t know what Rory H has done to be so badly ignored yet again. I would add though that Sione Tuipulotu has been great for warriors this season – even in their horrible defeats – as a real play maker.

  15. Just checking, are we talking about the same Finn Russell who was copped al that flak from many posters for his poor 6 nations performances earlier this year?

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  16. Amongst the genuine sadness that I won’t see Finn playing this Autumn and won’t see what Rory Hutchinson can do, it’s at least encouraging to see such unanimity on this thread. Surely the SRU realise that Townsend has lost his dressing room and supporters?

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    • If the SRU Management were up to the job they would have binned GT after the Japanese debacle. His ego and inability to settle on his best team are but two reasons why his departure is long overdue. His inconsistencies as a player have followed him into management. As he appears to be unwilling to change then he must be changed

  17. Just a thought, if Finn is replaced by BK doesn’t that mean we will play the All Blacks and Australia without recognised kicker or we will have to bring in someone who isn’t first choice to take shots at goal? So two changes to our strongest line up because GT has a personal issue with Finn, absolute playground stuff.
    And before anyone shouts George Horne instead of Ali Price, George is great especially at high tempo harum-scarum stuff, however we don’t have the players or capacity to do that for 80 mins against good opposition.

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      • No he can’t. Sorry, watched every game this season and he’s bang average as a 10 but with his abilities can play anywhere else in the back line.. just not as a 10.

  18. The RWC is Toony’s last twist. If he gets to France next year and we have had a poor autumn and 6 nations then he has to have a stellar RWC to save his job. Its either a result like 91 or gone. This inconsistency can’t go on and the fans won’t put up with it anymore. The cost alone is prohibitive for most.

    We have Aus, Fiji, NZ & Argentina for Autumn. We then have Eng, Wales, France, Ire & Italy in that order for the 6 nations with only two away games. If we can’t give ourselves momentum against all of that then we might as well not bother.

    Whether its Kinghorn, Russell or Bennett at 10 is irrelevant to me now as its not going to change. We all have our preferences (mine would be Bennett if he can stay injury free). Its a team, picked from a squad, that all train together and should have no excuses about attitude, effort and performance despite what they might think about the coaching. The less drama, distraction and peripheral nonsense around the squad the better IMO.

    I am glad that Ritchie has been made captain. Hogg is not a captain. I am also glad to see Redpath back in the fold. Hopefully he is fit and well.

    Fed up of hearing all the same arguments about positions. As my dear old Grandad used to say “You can only pee with the c*ck you’ve got!”.

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    • With respect to your dear old Grandad’s analogy, in Russell, Townsend has one of the greatest Scottish cocks of all time – he’s just chosen to chop it off!

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      • But you, nor I can change that…that’s my point. Townsend doesn’t do U-turns. So its the choices he’s chosen that we have to bear. The only thing you can change is whether you get behind the team or not.

  19. It’s a wonder his son is not in squad ..
    Wouldn’t have put it past him .
    Russell should have been first on team sheet .
    We have the best 10 in world and he’s not in squad .
    Absolutely diabolical decision from a Coach who’s lost the plot .

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    • It’s funny we are all on here because we love and we care about Scottish rugby, but as per usual the comments are overwhelmingly negative, not because we are negative but we can see the mistakes that are being made (time and time again)
      From GTs press conference yesterday it was almost as if Scotland won 3-0 in Argentina on the summer tour given GTs gushing positivity.
      The Russell situation is farcical, just when we have a forward pack that will be able to really compete, without question our best 10 is omitted.
      I’m on record that I would’ve savcked GT after the last World Cup, nothing has happened since to prompt me to think I was wrong.

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  20. The only thing I can think is that this is Townsend’s last man management gamble – goad Russell into remembering that this is really his and Hogg’s last WC to write themselves properly into Scottish Rigby folklore with a Vern-esque caper to some breathtaking results to the semis! If you look back at the last 6-7 years, all our best results (and there’s a surprising amount of them) have those two at their heart

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  21. FFS Townsend Murphy Walker has played 6 pro games in total and you have had the likes of McCallum and Rae playing every week and according to reports playing well in a very tough league for front 5 forwards. Oh sorry we should have realised that he is Sean Lineens nephew and Kinghorn is your vanity project, and Hastings like you still cannot tackle but he is in form. You are also happy to pick a multi capped Australian because the law designed to help the 2nd tier island nations is being used by you. Do you have no shame or is you ego just too big. God you were so over rated as a player and could not lace Craig Chalmers boots in consistency and game control and you are displaying all the same traits as a coach. Sooner you and Dobson and your fat salary packages go the better and take your bloody Super 6 with you.

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  22. GT at it again. Almost as if he wants Scotland to lose.
    Kinghorn is not an international 10 and Russell is. Thompson is significantly better than BK. Jordan looks better than Kinghorn. Hopefully he will be qualified soon, and then GT will have another stand-off to ignore.
    What does Hutchison have to do to get a game? One of the best centres in the Premiership, not in the be squad. Harris is good defensively but not a patch on RH in attack.
    Ah well, another spell of listening to Townsend spouting about lessons learned and how we’re improving all the time, just not getting any better.

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  23. Until the CEO and Coach of this current set up are moved on, expect further weak performances and equally weak excuses about how we’re learning etc

    Pathetic state of affairs

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  24. We’ll be lucky to produce a No.10 of Finn’s quality again in my lifetime and we do this.

    I think I’ll struggle to even watch these games.

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  25. When is GT going to actually make a decision, all we get is waffle, after games, after tours, after players break curfews, after squad announcements. The most important thing about a coach is his honesty and ability to get respect of his players,and have every one of them buying into his gameplan. I have no doubt GT a very good coach, but doesn’t inspire me when he speaks, no fire in his belly, would make a good politician!Totally unfair on other stand offs ,either FR in or out ,just make a decision. Get a squad of players who want to play for the jerseys and the coach. Unless he gets this ,Scotland are just making up the numbers at RWC

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  26. Why once again do we get all the Kinghorn bashing. I disagree with many of the comments about his form – he has had some great games for Edinburgh and has been involved in a few great tries. I’m not saying he is better than Finn and his kicking game has a way to go. We don’t even know if he is intended as first choice with Hastings now back. Ross Thompson should certainly not be ahead of Finn. Ive never seen any of the stand-offs have close to a flawless game but don’t just pick on Blairs flaws – they all have plenty.

    There are many other selections to talk about – Stafford MDowell ahead of Hutchison and Scott? Richie Gray back? what about Hunter Hill or Cameron Henderson the up and coming 2nd rows? Dempsey making the switch – good news here!
    Vellacot v’s White? Hope Bennett gets a start – he has been outstanding for Edinburgh for some time now.

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    • Agree Ross with much of what you say. It will be interesting to see what BK can do if Scotland can get some quick ball…
      Regarding the centre positions, perversely we seem to have an abundance of talent and I agree it’s tough on Hutchinson and Scott and I think James Lang had been showing nice touches for Edinburgh, Chris Dean also showing signs of a return to good form.
      I suspect that the Autumn Series is a bit of a balancing act for SRU and pro clubs and we might see some other faces not mentioned in the squad over the series, like Hunter Hill, Henderson, Muncaster, Kebble, Sebastian, Richardson, etc. as cover for injuries.

      • Sorry to disagree but with the exception of Bennett I don’t see a scottish centre who would start in any other tier 1 nations matches. We have plenty of OK but no outstanding centres (Bennett excepted)

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    • I do not think it is Kinghorn bashing. He is a lovely player and often a joy to watch – but an international fly half – only Townsend thinks so. It is the disgraceful treatment of Russell that gets people agitated.

    • I don’t think it is ‘bashing’ I consider it is just the reality of the fact that he is being shoehorned into a position that from what most have observed is NOT his best position on the field he is an excellent utility back that in this day and age is a benefit to the ‘half team’ that sit on the bench.

    • Agreed. It’s beyond me how SD got in ahead of Scott and especially Hutch. Again, what is it with GT and great flair players??

  27. Finn had looked back to his best for a misfiring Racing. Kicking goals from the half way line, releasing the wingers with pinpoint cross field kicks and making good breaks and offloads himself. He looks to have shed a few kg as well.
    Thompson has played one game so far for Glasgow, having recovered fitness playing Super 6 for Ayr. He has no form to speak of ( no fault of his) but is preferred over Russell.

    I hope Kinghorn gets to play the full 80 against the All Blacks.

    I would put money on him missing at least 5 try saving tackles.

    For a big man his tackling isn’t even up with a good school 1st XV stand off.

    It is embarrassing that Townsend persists with his delusion that BK is an international 10.

    So far this season Scotland have won 3 and lost 5.
    If it’s not at least 5 wins by the end of the AI’s then the pressure on 6 Nations campaign will be enormous to try to build some momentum going into France 23.

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  28. It comes down to the coach’s selection. Anything less than 2 wins and Townsend will be in serious trouble, not with his employers who won’t make a change so close to the RWC, but with media and fans.

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    • BK looked completely out of his depth against the SA teams. Clearly there is a rift between Townsend and Russell. If anyone has played poorly in recent weeks its BK also Thompson has hardly played at all and Finn has looked good for Racing. Or does Mr Townsend watch games through rose tinted (even squinted?) glasses?

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  29. Agree with just about everyone that BK is not an international number 10. Shudder to think what the All Black will do to him. Also why would you deprive your most inspirational player of the captaincy? Jamie Ritchie is a great player and should lead the pack but not team captain.

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  30. There are questions regarding Finn Russell not being selected for the Autumn Fixtures because he can’t get released for the first fixture outside the International window.
    Question 1. Why arrange an International fixture when it is outside the acceptable dates and not all players are available?
    Question 2. If Q1 was outside SRU control: regardless of that is this the best use of the available players for the later fixtures?
    I thought the quote from Townsend was somewhat strange regarding Russell needing to show form over the next few weeks, that doesn’t do anything to dispel rumours of an on going rift between Russell and Townsend, surely it can’t be that there is still some sort of vendetta with the Russell family from within the hallowed halls.
    I suppose the Australian fixture gives Townsend the opportunity because Russell is unavailable for one of the 4 fixtures but can you imagine Kinghorn against NZ, no harm to him but I’d prefer Hastings if Russell isn’t selected.
    My opinion for what it is worth regarding the change of Captaincy, I think it will release any pressure on Hogg, I never felt he was a natural Captain and you always feel Captaincy should be closer to the pack that said good luck to all in the upcoming Tests.

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  31. Gregor picks the form number tens and relieves Hogg of the captaincy so he can concentrate on being Scotlands best player, and then says this has nothing to do with that night out in Edinburgh. REALLY.

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    • thank god hogg isn’t captain. Horrible attitude, never a captain. Once he can learn to pass I’ll class him as world class. He’s just lucky we are so short in that area

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    • Ironic that announcement on the team
      and Russell is when most of the match tickets have been
      sold . I will now deliberately miss the match v Australia.
      Like with George Best , fans on both sides come to see
      FInn because he is a world class entertainer and boy
      fans need to see his refreshing style of play at a time when rugby’s existence is being threatened by over emphasis on
      defence and negative kicking .
      If GT has a mind change or injuries occur allowing Finn back then I would go to the All Black match

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  32. It does take two to fall out…. Although the onus should be on the Coach to sort it!!! Finn looks as though he is carrying a bit of extra lumber these days, but even if not as fit as he once was, what a player to have on the bench to turn a game if not going your way – I just can’t understand why you wouldn’t want that ability in your squad….

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    • He is playing very well for Racing AND kicking all their goals when he is on the field.

      He is as fast as ever from what I’ve seen this year, is strong in the tackle and is throwing himself into rucks when required.

      Townsend’s comments about form are just laughable.

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    • Finn had looked back to his best for a misfiring Racing. Kicking goals from the half way line, releasing the wingers with pinpoint cross field kicks and making good breaks and offloads himself. He looks to have shed a few kg as well.
      Thompson has played one game so far for Glasgow, having recovered fitness playing Super 6 for Ayr. He has no form to speak of ( no fault of his) but is preferred over Russell.

      I hope Kinghorn gets to play the full 80 against the All Blacks.

      I would put money on him missing at least 5 try saving tackles.

      For a big man his tackling isn’t even up with a good school 1st XV stand off.

      It is embarrassing that Townsend persists with his delusion that BK is an international 10.

      So far this season Scotland have won 3 and lost 5.
      If it’s not at least 5 wins by the end of the AI’s then the pressure on 6 Nations campaign will be enormous to try to build some momentum going into France 23.

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  33. Russell was very poor in last 6N and explained it was due to post-Lions fatigue. To some extent I get the need for him to prove he’s over that hump.

    But Ross Thompson has barely played this season and is not ready for test rugby. I hope Russell and Townsend have had good communication about his non-selection as it risks being a bit of a disaster.

    Gutted that we get to play NZ for the first time in ages and we’re possibly hampering our own competitiveness. Surely NZ is a challenge that would focus Russell’s mind?

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  34. I’ve heard it mentioned Russell is expecting a newborn in the coming weeks?

    Damaging how people use the go-to of it being Townsend’s fault that Russell is omitted. Two sides to a coin.

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    • Your phrase “two sides to a coin” implies equivalent behaviour. For me that sums it up the problem very nicely.

      The issue is that many us expect our coach to be able to “be the bigger person”. In comparing Ross Thomson’s form (he’s been injured for well over a month) to Finn Russell’s form doesn’t ring true and may work to deepen the problem. Daft.

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      • Equivalent to what, I haven’t read either party saying anything? What I meant was there may have been mutual consent to omit him? Haven’t read anything being said to the contrary.

        Implying fault on someone without evidence just isn’t the way to go about things.

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  35. How many world class players do we have that we can afford to leave Finn out. Are we really going to go into the next Six Nations and World Cup without him. Folly, pure folly

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    • Agree it would be good to have an in-form, fully focused Finn Russell back for 6N and World Cup. I wonder if the upcoming birth of his child might have something to do with his omission?

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  36. If there is enough room in this squad for Hogg’s ego, there is plenty room for Russell’s management-intensive personality too.

    Townsend’s job is to get our best players playing their best for Scotland. Russell is the best rugby talent Scotland has had for years and if Townsend can’t make it work, he simply shouldn’t be head coach.

    Anyone who thinks Kinghorn is remotely international class at 10 needs to look closely at his inability to manage URC games despite playing behind one of the best packs in the tournament and, if that doesn’t convince you, check out his abysmal tackle attempts in the lead up to the three Lions tries last week. (BTW, I am not an unthinking Kinghorn basher; in fact I would start him at 15 before Hogg – who is the real non-team player in our midst)

    Our results will be what they will be but I paid hundreds of pounds for my season ticket on the understanding that I would be watching the best players available, not the continuation of an obviously failing experiment which is now looking like it has been politically driven from the start.

    Also difficult to understand why the likes of Hutchinson and Scott have been omitted to make room for Tuipulotu.

    I was so looking forward to seeing what a Russell + Redpath/Scott/Hutchinson + Bennett midfield might be able to conjure up. So disappointing. So dispiriting. So unambitious. So Townsend.

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  37. Absolute insanity – Kinghorn is improving at 10 but cannot cope with a really well organised aggressive defence as we saw in SA and back in Edinburgh. Both Russell and Hastings are much better 10’s. As for Townsend you don’t manage, by firing your best performer, no matter how troublesome. A good manager works with them, to find a way forward. The sooner Townsend leaves the better. We have the best Scotland squad in decades going backwards. Time to bring back Vern?

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    • The only thing I disagree with there is the suggestion that Kinghorn is improving at 10.

      I simply don’t see any evidence of that and, indeed, I would argue that in the last two weeks, Savala significantly improved the potency of Edinburgh’s back line in phase play when he replaced him.

      Kinghorn is a broken field runner and game-breaker not a game manager or play maker. I can just about live with him playing 10 at Edinburgh given the other options but, let’s be honest, he would not be playing professionally at 10 at any club outside of Scotland and is nowhere near international class there.

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    • Absolutely spot on in all your points sir, I posted something very similar to uour point in SRB about Kinghorns strengths and weaknesses.
      Leaving Russell out is sheer folly, Lang is a much better option than McDowall presently at 12. GT will persist with Harris at 13, limiting out outside attacking options.
      I’ve not changed my opinion about GT since the last World Cup.

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