Monday 19 March 2018

Under-fire Robinson puts faith in Hogg for French test

Simon Turnbull

In one respect at least, Andy Robinson had the long-term future in mind yesterday.

The Scotland head coach, who got his fingers burnt somewhat when he pitched the teenaged Mathew Tait into the Six Nations cauldron at Cardiff in his England days, had no qualms about giving the 19-year-old Stuart Hogg a starting berth in the Scottish team to face France at Murrayfield on Saturday.

Not that there was any reason to be qualmish about the promotion of the dynamic Glasgow full-back, given the impact he made off the bench two weeks ago in Scotland's 27-13 defeat to Wales.

The Hawick native is going to be around for Scotland for some time, it would seem. As for Robinson, after a run of four defeats (two in the World Cup, two in the 2012 Six Nations), his future in charge of the Scots has been called into question.

There has even been a suggestion that he might "do the honourable thing" if he fails to buck the losing trend in Scotland's final three matches of the Championship at home to France and away to Ireland and Italy.

Not that the former England flanker was prepared to consider the prospect when the suggestion was put to him yesterday. "Why are we discussing a hypothetical situation?" Robinson said. "I'm looking at the next game. I'm going in with full confidence."

Robinson has made four changes to his starting XV for the French test, with Hogg starting at full-back. On Saturday he will become the first teenager to start for Scotland since Jim Renwick, his old mentor at Hawick, made his debut against France in 1972.

"I'm absolutely delighted for Stuart," Robinson said. "What we've seen from him is a steep progression. He has that ability to handle the pressure of international rugby." (© Independent News Service)

Scotland (v France) -- S Hogg; R Lamont, L Jones, S Lamont, G Morrison; G Laidlaw, M Blair; D Denton, R Rennie, J Barclay; J Hamilton, R Gray; G Cross, R Ford, A Jacobsen. Reps: S Lawson, E Kalman, A Kellock, R Vernon, C Cusiter, D Weir, N De Luca.

Irish Independent

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