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'I just think it's too much now' - Project players devaluing the Scotland jersey claims Grand Slam hero Chalmers

By Gavin Harper
(Photo by Getty Images)

Former Scotland stand-off Craig Chalmers has branded the selection of project players by Scotland “desperate” and believes their selection is devaluing the jersey.

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Chalmers, part of the Scotland side that won the Grand Slam in 1990, has spoken out about the selection of Jaco van der Walt for the Autumn Nations Cup clash in Ireland tomorrow (Saturday).

The South African-born Edinburgh stand-off is joined in the Scotland team by his club colleague Duhan van der Merwe, while Oli Kebble and WP Nel – who all qualify on residency grounds – are on the bench.

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“I understand it’s the rules and it’s not the guys’ fault, but I just feel that the team is losing its identity.

“I just think it’s too much now. I just think it looks a bit desperate that we’re trawling the world.

“One of the most upsetting things for me is why don’t these guys want to play for South Africa – they’ve got world champion teams, surely they’ve been inspired by them to play for South Africa and do as well as they can in their own country.

“I played with and against so many guys who didn’t get capped that probably should have, and to see people getting capped like this, it just devalues it.”

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While he branded the selection of van der Walt “a bit naughty” on the part of Gregor Townsend, Chalmers insisted he will be giving them his support come Saturday afternoon.

“It’s not the players’ fault and I’ll be supporting them on Saturday,” he added. The former stand-off believes money is being thrown “at the wrong areas” by Scottish Rugby, and believes young homegrown players are being overlooked.

“There are three players in the team all from Hawick [Stuart Hogg, Darcy Graham and Rory Sutherland] and there are others that are being missed from all over Scotland.

“You look at what’s happening at Glasgow at the moment when the internationals are away, you look at where the U20s are in terms of being out of the top tier and there has to be something done with the club game, it’s not right.

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“We are not developing and bringing players through the way we should be.”

Chalmers, who wore Scotland’s number 10 jersey a record 51 times in a 61-cap decade-long career, knows Duncan Weir well having coached the Worcester pivot at under-20 level, and feels the treatment Weir – jettisoned from the matchday 23 having made his first Scotland start for over four years in the win over Italy.

“I think he’s done pretty well and to be dislodged out the team for someone to get a cap so he is tied to Scotland, it’s a bit cheap to me.”

While Scotland have benefited from World Rugby’s three-year residency ruling, Chalmers believes that project players should not be allowed, insisting even five years is not enough of a commitment when players are signed by overseas clubs at a young age.

“To me, its weird that a guy who is brought up in South Africa or Australia, who have won World Cups and have fantastic players, are not inspired by the players in their own countries and they want to come and play for Edinburgh.”

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