Six Nations: Pete Horne backs Scotland’s centres of excellence

Cameron Redpath, Stafford McDowall and Rory Hutchinson all in contention to wear the No 12 jersey against Italy on Saturday

Peter Horne says Scotland are spoiled fo choice when it comes to selecting a replacement for the injured Sione Tuipulotu at inside centre. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Peter Horne says Scotland are spoiled fo choice when it comes to selecting a replacement for the injured Sione Tuipulotu at inside centre. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

SCOTLAND assistant coach Pete Horne has acknowledged that the loss of Sione Tuipulotu to a knee injury for the remainder of this Six Nations campaign is a major blow, but highlighted that there is no shortage of high calibre alternative options available to take over at inside-centre.

“He is such a great boy, Sione … he’s the heart and soul of everything,” said Horne, who regularly wore the dark blue No 12 jersey during his own 45-cap career between 2013 and 2019.

“You don’t only miss him on the field, you miss him just around the place. He’s got such a good energy and all the boys love him. He makes everyone else better around him as you always see him smiling. He’ll come out for unit training even when he’s absolutely burst and get everyone else going.


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“On the field, all the micro-communications that he does … you can’t underestimate how important that is for all the boys around him.

“So, he’ll be a big loss but we’ve got some quality of boys in behind,” added Horne, who then discussed the merits of Cameron Redpath, Stafford McDowall and Rory Hutchinson, who are all in the mix to partner Finn Russell and Huw Jones in Scotland’s midfield against Italy in Rome on Saturday.

“Cam was outstanding off the bench against England. He’s been pushing the boys who have been starting really hard and has been pushing for an opportunity for a long time/

“It just shows the mental strength of our whole squad, not just the starting XV. He was so well prepped and performed so well after having to come on early in the game. I was so chuffed for him.

“Cam’s having a great season. He and Finn are going really well together at Bath. Speaking to their coaches, I know Cam is very highly regarded there.

“He’s just got something about him. He’s a Test match animal and he’s got real X Factor. If he gets the nod this weekend, we’ll all be really excited to see him play.”

“Staff  is in the form of his life and is another one who’s knocking at the door just desperate for that opportunity. If he gets that he’ll grasp it with both hands. He’s ready.

“Hutch  as well, he’s been unlucky that he’s not had games between [Scotland matches] so that’s been six weeks that he’s not played.

“It’s frustrating that he can’t go and back up some of the things he’s doing in training because we want to see how that’s going to go into a game. It’s one thing performing really well in training … it’s another thing going out and doing it on a Saturday and really kicking down the door going ‘pick me’ so I feel for him.

“[So] it’s been tough for him [but] he’s training really well. The ‘mavs’ we call them, the bibs, were really good [in training today]. There’s a few guys really put their hand up. Gregor spoke at the start of the England week that because there isn’t many opportunities to go and play, it’s important we’re training well and, believe me, we go through everything with a fine toothcomb looking at everyone and how they’re performing in each session.”

Horne also confirmed that there has been no movement from the English Premiership on allowing players to be part of the international camp during the Six Nations fallow weeks, despite the fact that the clubs in that league are effectively on holiday throughout this period.

“We couldn’t get hold of them [the players], which was gutting. They had the week off, so they spent the week working on little bits on their own,” said Horne.

“The Edinburgh and Glasgow guys normally get a Monday off and on a Tuesday they’ll gym and do some skills locally,” he added. “We all come together on a Wednesday night and we’ll do two big days days Thursday and Friday. We do start looking at some of the plays we’re going to use and what not, and them missing that means you have to go through that again on the Monday and a Tuesday. If you have them there, you can have a lot more of your prep done early in the week.

“It would be nice if everyone had access to their players for those weeks, but I totally get it in business as well. If you are the owner of Bath, you’re not going to want Finn risking himself for a training session up here on a Thursday. If he was to get injured, God forbid, you would be pretty gutted,” he added, before highlighting that there is some upside to players getting time off mid-championship.

“It’s a good chance for them to refresh and get away from rugby for a bit, which is tough in a long season. As soon as the Six Nations finishes they’ll be expected to get back and perform for their clubs. It’s probably not the end of the world to get your head out of rugby for a bit and freshen up. They’ve all come back in and they’re ready to go.”


Six Nations: Scotland hopeful Stafford McDowall does his talking on the pitch

About David Barnes 3891 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he 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.

11 Comments

  1. The giveaway is the order of precedence, given by Horne, in his discussion of the 12 spot centre depth.
    Tui
    Redpath
    McDowell
    Hutchinson

    ..so next in line Redpath…then McDowell for a bench spot possibly.

  2. Will be interesting to see how the battle for centre spots develops if Hutch’s rumoured potential move from Northampton to Scotland comes about.

    But for Saturday I also think it’s going to be Huw and Cam starting with Stafford on the bench. I’m very OK with that. As noted, McDowell doesn’t yet have Hutchinson’s touch and variety but his game has really developed lately and he brings a physicality and eye for a fantastic cutting line. Loving his line-out shenanigans for Warriors too!

    We’re so fortunate to be in this place that – even when we’re missing one of our best players – we’ve got genuinely top quality replacements ready to go. And that’s without even mentioning the likes of Chris Harris or Mark Bennett.

    • Yes we are stronger in that midfield area. Unlikely Harris and Bennet will ever play for Scotland again.. they are past their primes. Tom Jordan when he is SQ later this year and Matt Currie are players that will be next in line to the current squad, I would think.

  3. I wouldn’t be surprised to see McDowall start at 12 with Redpath staying at 23. McDowall can bring a power game that only Tuipulotu betters, and unlike big Scottish lads before him he has good distribution and a kicking game which means defences have to make decisions which opens up space around him.

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  4. Surely Hutchinson deserves his chance in the 23. He’s capable of covering 10, 12, 13 and 15 if needed and he brings the sort of creativity we’ll be missing with Sione out. Redpath to start and Hutch in the bench would be my choice.

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  5. Surely has to be Redpath to start with Hutch on the bench. He covers more positions and deserves a start, feel for the bloke travelling up and down and never getting a chance, Stafford is a decent player and a big unit but Hutch edges it on skills, has a great rugby brain and is part of Saints back division that are carving up in the Premiership.

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    • Hutchinson has no chance of being in the 23 under Townsends watch. I appreciate we currently have a wealth of talent available and you can only select 3, however that was not always the case and Hutchinson has never been given a real chance by Townsend. I feel for the guy.

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      • I think that’s right unfortunately.

        Hutchinson was excellent in the warm ups for the 2019 World Cup but Townsend picked Duncan Taylor – who hadn’t really proved himself since coming back from injury – instead and he made very little contribution during the tournament.

    • Watching some of the Warriors play this season, McDowall certainly has great skills too – some great offloads, happy to carry hard into the opposition when he needs to, good support running and a decent boot. While both he and Hutchinson have their own strengths, it would be hard to claim Hutchinson has more/“better” skills. And a lack of game time – and admittedly, Toony’s reluctance to pick him when deserving in the past – probably count against Hutchinson. And someone even mentioned Harris – he’s gone from indispensable to nowhere quite rapidly, I’m guessing because others have improved their defensive work – an accusation leveled at Jones before, rightly or wrongly though definitely not seen a problem this 6N – while Harris was never the sharpest or speediest in attack. He certainly helped to hold things together for a while but we now seem more blessed with all round quality centres.

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  6. If it isn’t Redpath I’d be astounded.

    He plays off Russell at Bath and has had serious league game time outside of the 6 nations. I feel for Stafford as he deserves a berth but I think common sense has to prevail here. An edge is required in that channel and both provide that. For me it comes down to familiarity with the current set up.

    Italy are a banana skin waiting to happen and we need to be tight, rehearsed, and ruthless with them. Don’t take the foot off the gas…even if it is a cricket score.

    But I doubt that will happen…

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  7. Is that Mr Horne basically confirming that Cam will start and Stafford bench due to “a lack of game time” for Hutch 🤔🤔.

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