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Scots to make late call on 'isolated' Gray

IT WAS not quite a 'who shot Bambi?' moment, although Jeremy Guscott might have seen it that way. Richie Gray, the 6ft 8in stand-out performer on the opening weekend of the Six Nations, was placed "in isolation" by Scotland yesterday and rated as a big doubt for the engagement with Wales at Murrayfield today.

Described by Guscott as "Bambi on ice" and "too slow and cumbersome" ahead of Scotland's visit to Paris last Saturday, Gray proceeded to look more like Red Rum at Aintree as he galloped around the Stade de France like a second-row thoroughbred. Still, the skids have been put under the towering Glasgow lock.

"Richie has got a stomach bug," Andy Robinson, Scotland's head coach, reported after lunchtime training yesterday. "He's been isolated from the camp and we'll make a decision tomorrow morning about whether he plays."

Edinburgh's Scott MacLeod has been drafted into the squad and the chances are that he will be on bench duty today, with Richie Vernon moving up to a starting berth at No 8, Kelly Brown switching to open-side flanker and Nathan Hines going into the second-row. "These things happen," Robinson said. "You just have to take them in your stride."

Robinson's Scots, buoyed by an impressive performance in defeat (34-21) against the French, lock horns with a Welsh side beaten 26-19 by England in Cardiff and short on confidence after a run of eight games without a win.

Scotland will be looking to work the kind of try-scoring magic they showed in Paris (where they crossed the home whitewash three times). "We made 200 passes last week," Robinson said. "It shows we're improving our skill levels.

"The key for both teams is how they get go-forward ball. Wales have got some big ball-carriers -- Jamie Roberts, Ryan Jones, Bradley Davies, Matthew Rees -- and we've got to make sure they don't get that go-forward."

Wales have Ryan Jones at No 8, the former captain replacing the injured Andy Powell for a return to the arena in which he bagged his solitary international try six years ago.

"We're the slight underdogs and we've got to thrive on that. We've got to make sure we are bold, brave, and more clinical," the 47-cap veteran said. (© Independent News Service)

Scotland -- H Southwell, ; N Walker, J Ansbro, N de Luca, M Evans; D Parks, R Lawson; K Brown, J Barclay, N Hines; A Kellock, R Gray, E Murray, R Ford, A Jacobsen. Reps: S Lawson, M Low, R Vernon, R Rennie, M Blair, R Jackson, S Lamont.

Wales -- L Byrne; M Stoddart, J Roberts, J Davies, S Williams; J Hook, M Phillips; R Jones, S Warburton, D Lydiate; A Wyn Jones, B Davies, C Mitchell, M Rees (Capt), P James. Reps: R Hibbard, J Yapp, J Thomas, J Turnbull, T Knoyle, S Jones, R Priestland.

Ref -- G Clancy (IRE).

Scotland v Wales,

Live, RTE2 & BBC1, 5.0

Irish Independent