Sport Rugby

Monday 1 September 2014

Strokosch blow forces Scotland to shuffle pack

Alasdair Reid

Published 17/11/2012 | 05:00

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Having spent the week talking up the game's confrontational dimension, Scotland coach Andy Robinson then found out that his side would have to do without the services of the human piledriver and arch enforcer that is Al Strokosch when they take on South Africa at Murrayfield this afternoon.

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Strokosch, a karate black belt who has talked of his interest in cage fighting in the past, has been ruled out of the team by the calf strain he picked up in training on Tuesday.

John Barclay has been promoted from the bench, and will play on the openside flank in a reshuffled back- row in which captain Kelly Brown has been moved to blindside. Dave Denton retains his place at No 8.

"It is a good balance," said Robinson of his recast back-row. "John was disappointed not to start the first game (against New Zealand last weekend) and he now has the opportunity to show what he can do."

What Barclay can do is no great secret actually. Indeed, South Africa will no doubt remember his contributions to their 21-17 loss to the Scots at Murrayfield in 2010, the last meeting of the two sides, which ended with Barclay being handed the Man of the Match award.

Jean de Villiers is one of just four survivors from the 2010 starting line-up who are still in the Springboks' side.

"You always get up for a game against a team that beat you the last time you played them," said De Villiers. "Scotland are a good team. We must be prepared for what we will face."

(© Daily Telegraph, London)

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