Scotland’s interim Head Coach Scott Johnson was dealt yet another blow today with news that winger Tim Visser will be out injured until next year
This is a huge blow to a Scotland side that seemed to have finally found a back three capable of going toe-to-toe with the best sides in the World. In Hogg, Visser and Maitland Scotland looked to have a settled back three who were capable of scoring tries from anywhere on the pitch.
Whilst the loss of Visser and Hogg will put a huge dent in Scotland’s hopes this Autumn, what it does provide is an opportunity for a number of youngsters to stake their claim for a place in the team ahead of the impending arrival of Vern Cotter next summer.
The question however is who will be be able to step straight up to the international stage and do a job for Johnson and his men?
In place of Hogg at full back Johnson has three potential candidates who could all step in and stake a claim for the shirt long-term. Greig Tonks is currently looking an excellent option in a poor Edinburgh side and is likely to add to his one cap this Autumn.
Bath stand-off Tom Heathcote could also be an option at full back for Scotland. Although he is currently second choice at Bath and prefers to play at 10 Heathcote looks to have great potential and is more than capable of playing at 15. It could also be an excellent opportunity to provide Heathcote with some international experience with a view to progressing him to the 10 shirt in the future.
The final option at full back is Duncan Taylor who is looking to be a solid option for Saracens and Scotland. Taylor is equally comfortable playing out on the wing and could therefore be a perfect option on the bench ready to cover the back three.
It now looks likely that Glasgow Warriors flyer Tommy Seymour will be starting out on the wing in place of the injured Tim Visser. With two caps already to his name this is an excellent opportunity for Seymour to set down a marker and make a case for longer-term inclusion in the starting line-up.
There are also other areas where youngsters are likely to be given an opportunity to impress in the upcoming internationals. This seems an ideal opportunity for Ruaridh Jackson to lay down a marker as Scotland’s first choice fly half just two years ahead of the World Cup. He will likely face competition for the 10 shirt from Duncan Weir but hopefully Jackson’s superior attacking game will see him given the opportunity.
Whilst whoever starts at fly-half will be accompanied by Greig Laidlaw at scrum-half , Henry Pyrgos should hopefully be given an opportunity off the bench. Laidlaw’s impressive form this season may limit Pyrgos’ opportunities but hopefully he will be given his opportunity so he is ready to step in should the worst occur and Laidlaw suffer an injury.
In the second row Richie Gray’s younger brother Jonny and Grant Gilchrist will both be pushing hard for their opportunity in Scotland’s engine room. Whilst in the back row Dave Denton will be looking to continue pushing his claim for a regular place in the starting line-up.
Who do you think will be given their chance for Scotland?