SCOTLAND Under-20s head coach Kenny Murray has made three changes to his starting XV for Friday night’s Six Nations round four match against Italy in Treviso.
Ollie Leatherbarrow – who has been involved in the Exeter Chiefs senior squad this season – is injured so captain Rhys Tait switches to No 8 and Tim Brown of Glasgow Hawks comes in at open-side flanker, Gregor Hiddleston takes over from Patrick Harrison – who has played three senior games with Edinburgh – at hooker, and Ben Evans comes in for Ollie Melville – a veteran of last year’s Six Nations – on left wing.
“Ollie [Leatherbarrow] was back playing in a university [Exeter University] game last week and he got a bit of a bang on the cheek so it was still a bit uncomfortable when he came back into training with us so we got him checked out just for safety and to double check ourselves, but it turns out he has got a fracture just underneath the eye, so he will be unavailable for the next few games,” explained Murray.
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“Paddy [Harrison] has played three games, he was in training with Edinburgh last week as well and got a little knock to his ribs so we thought it was a good time to give other guys a shot and give him a rest. Duncan Hood [who has come onto the bench] has not played yet and there is not much between him and Gregor [Hiddleston].
“Ollie [Melville] is temporarily out of the programme at the moment, he’s has got a lot of university work and pressures that he has been dealing with a little bit, so he is taking time out just to focus on that just now.
As well as Hood coming in to cover hooker from the bench, Innes Hill of Ealing Trailfinders will help cover the back-five of the scrum, Jed Gelderbloom returns to the squad for the first time since the round one defeat to England as back-up scrum-half, and Southern Knights back-three player Keiran Clark is in line for his Scotland U20s debut should he take to the field.
The Scots, who are searching their first win of the campaign, face another tough challenge in Treviso against an Italian side who managed to defeat England 6-0 in round two.
“Although the score-line didn’t reflect it, there were some positives to take from the game against France,” said Murray “France were strong and powerful. We know Italy will bring more of the same, with added physicality, but we’ve already shown in the tournament that we can be strong, physical, and powerful too.
“We’ve selected a fairly settled side to face Italy. There are number of key partnerships within the team who have played several games together now and are beginning to gel. We’ll look for the whole squad to do the basics right to get the performance we want.
“You only have to look at the clips of Italy’s games so far to see how good they can be, against Ireland they also put in a good performance.
“They are a good side, they are big, they are physical. They have big men up front, strong set piece and good finishers on the edges, so the boys know it is going to be a tough game away from home with a good crowd behind them.
Scotland U20s (v Italy at Stadio Comunale di Mongio on Friday @ 6pm GMT): Robin Mc Clintock (Montpellier); Ross McKnight (Stirling County/Glasgow Warriors), Duncan Munn (Boroughmuir Bears), Andy Stirrat (GHA), Ben Evans (Heriot’s/Edinburgh Rugby); Christian Townsend (Ayrshire Bulls/Glasgow Warriors), Murray Redpath (Newcastle University); Michael Jones (Heriot’sRugby/Edinburgh Rugby), Gregor Hiddleston (GHA), Gregor Scougall (Currie Chieftains), Josh Taylor (Ealing Trailfinders), Max Williamson (Stirling County/Glasgow Warriors), Matthew Deehan (Newcastle Falcons), Tim Brown (Glasgow Hawks), Rhys Tait (Boroughmuir Bears/Glasgow Warriors) CAPTAIN.
Replacements: Duncan Hood (Bath University), Ali Rogers (Glasgow Hawks), Callum Norrie (Strathallan School), Rudi Brown (Watsonians Rugby/Edinburgh Rugby), Innes Hill (Ealing Trailfinders), Jed Gelderbloom (Edinburgh Rugby), Thomas Glendinning (Glasgow Hawks), Keiran Clark (Southern Knights).
I’m a big fan of the club game and would have liked to have seen more club boys given an opportunity, like Callum Inglis of Marr, Finlay Burgess of Hawks, or Conor Sutherland of Hawick. But I have to admit the club boys who have played – Stirrat, Hiddleston, Tim Brown etc – look a wee bit underpowered and clearly the additional time the academy boys have for gym work makes them more ready to take on the big pro’s of england and France. Of course that means we maybe are not picking the most technically skillful boys, but the lads who can cope physically. Surprisingly we have looked ok up front, but a bit underwhelming in the backs. I also wonder if the very late appointment of Kenny Murray as head coach has worked against the team having a clear identity. Then again, maybe it was just announced late, but he has actually been working all season knowing he would have responsibility. I still expect we will see the usual number of guys achieve from this age group, even if their development is a wee bit slower than some other countries – Harrison, Williamson, Tait, Munn and Evans will all play for Scotland. And maybe one or two others.
Struggling to think what the positives from the France game were…..
The final whistle?
Living on his own hype
Colin Hill – agreed , there appears to be no pressure on some of these positions at all which is not a good position to be in.
Also Rudi Brown on the bench again , given that this lad is getting some experience with Edinburgh then why not start him. Don’t see any point in him continually being in the bench , he’s actually still technically aged for U18’s so if you are not going to give him good game time at 20’s let him play at 18’s in France at the 18’s event so that he gets some decent time under his belt.
Also strange call regarding young Kieran Clark from the Knights on the bench , to my knowledge he has not played a game since his injury / surgery before the New Year – how then can it be sensible to throw him straight into a 20’s game without any game time under his belt , makes no sense at all and surely not in his interests physically ?
This tournament needs to be used to give eligible players exposure at that level , what’s the point in suggesting that players are developing “partnerships” in these games when it is highly likely they won’t play together again afterwards. Give more players a chance to step up. The selection policy relating to the 20’s leaves a lot to be desired , it’s little wonder talented players disappear from the game….
Yes , I think they are scared of someone ….
Same old same old .
Doesn’t seem to matter how you play in certain positions you’re still in regardless
What’s wrong with giving lads who’ve never been getting a start a chance to impress .
Are they scared of someone .
And what’s wrong with giving lads an extended run in the team?
There are others who have been subs or never got on deserving a start .
Who knows till they have been seen on pitch .
Management seem to be scared to change for some reason.
Wales changed 10 personnel from a previous round loss when they played against Scotland and got the victory.
Professional sport is brutal .usually if you’re not up to it you’re out .clearly not here
That someone is also on a ‘Shoogly Peg ‘.
Living his own hype.
Living on his own hype