Scotland rugby coach Vern Cotter is being urged to seek continuity of selection as he prepares to name a team for the final leg of the viagogo Autumn Test series against Tonga at Kilmarnock on Saturday.
The dilemma for Cotter is whether to disrupt a team that, by general consensus, has surpassed expectations in comfortably defeating Argentina and running the world champion All Blacks close – or look ahead to next year’s World Cup with some experimentation.
The Evening News canvassed the opinions of former Scotland internationalists and from ex-captain Gary Armstrong there was a resounding ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ while Marcus Di Rollo, who moved into coaching when his career ended, was of a similar view.
Simon Webster, scorer of a try against the All Blacks on a previous visit to BT Murrayfield, is in the undecided camp but Iain Milne, former prop and now vice-president of Heriot’s, gave a ringing endorsement to the notion of resting players.
“Tonga on Saturday is a massive game in terms of whether the autumn internationals can be declared a success.
“If you had asked the coach at the start of the series if he’d have taken two wins and a good performance against the All Blacks, I suspect he’d have taken the two out of three.
“Vern has a chance now to build on what he has got and not change for change’s sake.
“Let’s get some continuity and develop the confidence that comes with winning and keeping a settled side together.
“Scotland are not far off so let’s see what this team can achieve.”
MARCUS DI ROLLO
“International rugby is the pinnacle and for that reason alone I’d like to see the best players picked every time.
“Maybe if there is nothing at all between two rivals or someone is coming back from injury there is a greater case for change.
“But while it maybe suited New Zealand to try different combinations I’m inclined to think that if guys play well – and Scotland have been impressive – then they get rewarded with another opportunity.
“Scotland were good against Argentina and really good last weekend when they were in the game for huge periods.
“If that kick (by Greig Laidlaw) had gone over it might have been an entirely different last ten minutes, so it is worth sticking as close as possible to the line-up.”
“I’ve been really impressed so far.
“The breakdown work especially at the weekend was really good and I’m excited to watch the attacking side of things.
“It will be good to keep a bit of momentum (but) while the strength in depth is okay it could always be better.
“Momentum is everything and the guys have fronted up.
“(But) Vern Cotter is only a year away from a World Cup. I’m sure there are a few people he wants to look at.
“Although I played with Edinburgh, I see Glasgow going well and they are bringing a confidence to the international team. They go out expecting to win.
“I think the backbone of the team should be the same but with experiments in possibly a couple of positions.”
“I’d make changes. It is quite a big ask to play three in a row. Having said that it’s critical Scotland win and then it would be a good autumn series.
“At the same time you’ve got to give some boys a rest.
“New Zealand was a hugely physical encounter and then you have the emotional side of the Scotland players having to lift themselves again for a third week in a row.
“In those circumstances Vern needs to look at some other players as well.”
• So far the only member of Saturday’s team to be ruled out of the showdown with South Sea islanders who approach on the back of tour wins against Georgia and the USA is centre Mark Bennett.