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'Scary things' have Scotland on edge for the opener with Australia

By PA
(Photo by Paul Devlin/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Steve Tandy has backed Jamie Ritchie to embrace the Scotland captaincy as the Edinburgh flanker prepares to lead the national team into their autumn series, starting this Saturday against Australia. The 26-year-old was appointed skipper of his club this term and now he will perform the same role for his country after Gregor Townsend handed him the honour last week in place of the previous incumbent Stuart Hogg.

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Ritchie, who spent six months on the sidelines earlier this year with a serious hamstring injury, will captain the Scots in their Tests against Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and Argentina at BT Murrayfield over the next month.

“He will do a fantastic job, he’s super competitive,” said defence coach Tandy. “He leads and people follow him, and he iss an outstanding rugby player as well. He plays really well in a Scotland shirt. It’s a great opportunity for him to lead his country and to start at home as well.

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“He has embraced it so far, he doesn’t change a lot. He wants to drive standards anyway. He is maturing and he is around lots of experienced guys and he doesn’t need to change too much. He leads anyway – and he will naturally grow and embrace the moment.”

After a promising 2021, Scotland have had an underwhelming 2022 so far but Tandy is unbelievably excited about getting the chance to develop the squad further over the next month as they step up preparations for the Six Nations and next year’s World Cup.

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“Getting the boys back yesterday [Monday] was brilliant, just getting connected again and catching up,” he said on Tuesday. “Then get into our processes, our first day’s training today had great energy. I’m excited for the next four Tests coming up. It’s about building on summer stuff as well. We didn’t win that series, but there were a lot of good things that went on. It’s just building, rather than a fresh start, just building momentum against outstanding teams. It’s great to get back to Murrayfield in front of full houses and we’re excited to grow our game over the autumn period.”

Scotland kick off their autumn series against Australia this Saturday and Tandy is braced for a formidable challenge. “When you look through the autumn games there are a few scary things from everyone, whether it be Fiji or New Zealand – but Australia, there is lots of variety in their set-piece attack and some powerful ball carriers that can really cause damage, especially close to your goal line,” he said.

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Tandy reported that the squad is in good health, with the Glasgow contingent having joined the fray after a sickness bug ripped through their travelling party while they were in South Africa over the past two weeks. “They [the Glasgow players] were a little bit tired on Monday when they came back in, but they are all good and ready to go,” he said. “We didn’t pick up any serious bangs on the weekend so we had good numbers today.”

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Shaylen 2 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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J
Jon 8 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

I think the main problem here is the structure of both countries make up. They are going to have very similar.. obstacles(not problems). It will just be part of the evolution of their rugby and they’ll need to find a way to make this versatility more advantageous than specialization. I think South Africa are well on the way to that end already, but Ireland are more likely to have a hierarchical approach and move players around the provinces. Sopoaga is going to be more than good enough to look up one of those available positions for more than a few years I believe though. Morgan would definitely be a more long term outlook. Sacha to me has the natural footwork of a second five. Not everything is about winning, if a team has 3 players that want to play 10s just give them all a good go even if its to the detriment of everyone, this is also about dreams of the players, not just the fans. This is exactly how it would be in an amateur club setting. Ultimately some players just aren’t suited to any one position. The example was of a guy that had size and speed, enough pace to burn, power to drive, and speed to kick and pass long, but just not much else when it came to actual rugby (that matched it). New Zealand has it’s own example with Jordie Barrett and probably shows what Reece Hodge could have been if the game in Australia had any administration. Despite the bigger abundance of talent in NZ, Jordie was provided with consistent time as a fullback, before being ushered in as a second five. Possibly this was due to his blood, and another might not have been as fortunate, but it is what it was, a complete contrast to how Hodge was used in Australia, were he could have had any position he wanted. When it comes down to it though, much like these young fellas, it will be about what they want, and I think you’ll find they’ll be like Hodge and just want to be as valuable to the team as they can and play wherever. It’s not like 63 International Cap is a hard thing to live with as a result of that decision!

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