Moffat lauds Hutton after electric debut
Published 11/01/2010 | 05:00
These are unsettling times for the Scot at Number 10. Nothing new there.
Even when Gregor Townsend was wearing the out-half's jersey for Scotland, there were those who deemed him too much of a maverick, too inconsistent -- not least the management, who wanted to move him out to the number 13 slot or wider still, to the bench. Not since the days of Craig Chalmers has any player been truly secure in the pivotal position for Scotland.
Since his installation as national head coach last summer, Andy Robinson has turned to Phil Godman, pinning his faith in the Edinburgh out-half and giving the cold shoulder to Dan Parks, a proficient exponent of the kicking game and a stand-out stand-off at Magners League level but a one-dimensional merchant on the international stage.
Having stuttered through Scotland's autumn tests and been out-manoeuvred and out-played by Parks in Edinburgh's home-and-away defeats against Glasgow over the festive period, the out-of-sorts Godman -- hampered by a hip problem as well as a loss of form -- was given a rest for the Magners League visit of the Cardiff Blues to Murrayfield on Saturday night. Into the breach came one Rory Hutton, "a bright spark," as Rob Moffat, Edinburgh's head coach, quipped at the post-match press conference, to groans all round.
The Fourth Estate had already penned their punning dispatches about the qualified electrician sparking the Scottish capital side to attacking life and, ultimately, to victory. And this on the occasion of the 22-year-old Borderer's formal debut.
Hutton did play in a pre-season 0friendly at Newcastle but this was his first competitive appearance for Edinburgh. Which made his game-breaking influence all the more impressive. Five minutes before half-time, with the scores tied at 6-6 and the home side butchering attacking opportunities, Hutton took the occasion by the scruff of the neck with a 15-yard break that came to grief when Leigh Halfpenny intervened five yards from the line, but which was given try-scoring momentum as the new boy popped up a pass for flanker Ross Rennie to carry the ball over the whitewash. It was no flashing spark in the pan.
Two minutes into the second-half, the new boy split the Cardiff defence with another bit of nifty footwork, his half-break setting in motion an attack that culminated with winger Jim Thompson dotting down in the left corner. After four barren games, Edinburgh had two tries in seven minutes. They had the game in the bag, too. And for that they had to thank the back row brilliance of Ren-nie and Roddy Grant as much as the inspiration of their fledgling out-half.
Hutton -- who has been playing his club rugby for Heriot's this season -- remains a good way from the finished article. His passing is not the smoothest, and neither is his kicking. Nonetheless, as Moffat enthused in the aftermath of Saturday's game: "In any game he'll make a break or two."
The chances are that Godman will be restored at number 10 for Edinburgh's Heineken Cup tie away to Ulster on Friday and for Scotland's Six Nations Championship opener against France at Murrayfield on February 7. Still, Robinson needs all of the talent he can muster in that department and in Hutton and Glasgow's Ruaridh Jackson, Scotland's head honcho appears to have not just one but a couple of bright spark out-halves for the future.
And that is a quality in a home-grown out-half that both the Edinburgh coach and Robinson cannot ignore.