Thursday 22 March 2018

Scots out to steady ship as Ansbro gets nod

Simon Turnbull

SEVEN DAYS on and still the aftershock of the All Blacks collision at Murrayfield is being felt by Scotland.

The lingering effects of the shoulder injury suffered by Max Evans in the final knockings of the 49-3 defeat caused the Glasgow outside-centre to be withdrawn from the starting XV, whose mission will be to pick up the pieces against South Africa in Edinburgh this afternoon.

Into the breach to claim the No 13 jersey comes Joe Ansbro, the uncapped Northampton centre-cum-wing, who was hastily withdrawn from the Scotland 'A' team to face the United States last night.

Ansbro has been deployed principally off the bench by Northampton in the English Premiership, but he is seen as no ordinary Joe by Scotland's head coach Andy Robinson.

Indeed, Robinson has ventured as far as to compare Ansbro with that most princely of centres from his own playing days with Bath and England.

"I think he is similar to Jeremy Guscott in that he will find an angle and go," said Robinson. "He's got that touch of pace we need."


Scotland could certainly do with a hurry-up on the try-scoring front. In their last six Test matches they have crossed the opposition whitewash only twice, on both occasions courtesy of forwards, Johnnie Beattie against the Irish in March and Jim Hamilton against Argentina in June.

The Springboks arrived on their European tour being portrayed as makeweights, but have already proven too strong for both Ireland and Wales.

Having gone into last week's Autumn Internationals opener on the back of four unbeaten games, including tough wins on the road against Ireland and then Argentina, the Scots find themselves urgently needing to steady the ship after leaking their biggest haul of points in a home Test for 12 years.

Looking to bounce back, Robinson has deployed combative second-row veteran Nathan Hines at blindside flanker, in a starting XV in which Rory Lawson comes in for the injured Mike Blair as both scrum-half and captain.

Scotland -- H Southwell; N Walker, J Ansbro, G Morrison, S Lamont; D Parks, R Lawson (capt); A Jacobsen, R Ford, E Murray, S MacLeod, R Gray, N Hines, J Barclay, K Brown. Reps: D Hall, M Low, R Vernon, R Rennie, G Laidlaw, R Jackson, C Paterson.

South Africa -- Z Kirchner; G Aplon, F Steyn, J de Villiers, L Mvovo; M Steyn, F Hougaard; T Mtawarira, B du Plessis, J du Plessis, B Botha, V Matfield (capt), D Stegmann, J Smith, R Kankowski. Reps: A Strauss, CJ van der Linde, F van der Merwe, W Alberts, R Pienaar, A Jacobs, P Lambie.

REF -- S Dickinson (Australia).

Scotland v South Africa,

Live, BBC1 / Sky Sports 1, 2.30

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport