Scottish rugby legend John Beattie today took a double swipe at national coach Andy Robinson’s selection and substitutions.
The blast from one of the few Scottish caps to undertake two Lions tours came as the team face having to beat England by more than eight points for the first time in 25 years in Auckland on Saturday to have a chance of maintaining an unbroken link with the World Cup quarter-finals following yesterday’s defeat.
On selection, Beattie says: “You don’t drop your captain. Al Kellock should have started.”
Kellock was among a handful rested after the Six Nations in order to be pristine for the always pivotal Pumas clash yet, while he failed to even make the bench, two others who were stood down from Edinburgh for similar stamina-building reasons, Allan Jacobsen and Ross Ford, weren’t given the full 80 minutes.
Beattie tells his weekly BBC blog: “Why take off your best players? The ball is in play in international rugby for between 35 and 40 minutes. The rest of the time is hanging around, walking to line-outs, injuries, penalty kicks, or resetting scrums. So, if you replace a player at 60 minutes, he has actually only played three quarters of the ball in play time, which is 30 minutes if you believe that the ball is in play for, say, 40.
“I know the hits are huge and that causes exhaustion, but our best players are, well, our best players. For me, key men include Allan Jacobsen, Richie Gray, Rory Lawson and Ross Ford. Jackson forced his way in and, of the two stand-offs, he is the one who attacks the gain line more forcefully.
“I really like Jacobsen and his attitude, why take him off?
“I thought Ford was key in defence, Gray was probably struggling with a hamstring and that one might be explained away, but why remove the bulk of Ford? It was surprising that, with the game won, Scotland changed the blend. I reckon your best players should stay for the duration.
Despite misgivings Beattie insists: “Scotland to beat England and Georgia to beat Argentina . . . it can be done.”