Forwards coach Jonathan Humphreys has been given a ringing endorsement of his credentials as he bids to help get Scotland back on track.
The backing comes from former Heriot’s prop forward Iain Lawrie, who, as a Lions front-row selector, watched and met regularly with Welsh hooker Humphreys in the build-up to the successful tour of South Africa in 1997.
“Unfortunately injury counted against Jon going on that tour but he’d have been a shoo-in if available,” said Iain Lawrie.
“My brief wasn’t just about getting the best players – Jon probably would have had to understudy the outstanding Keith Wood on that tour – but ensuring they would fit into the party.
“That often meant catching up after a game and having a chat. From the outset Jon was one of those who impressed me most when it came to discussing and analysing games.
“Maybe because I hadn’t played international rugby myself, some down south were a bit distant when it came to meeting up but Jon was different. When I went to see him play at Bath he was always happy to sit and talk about the game and he spoke with a real passion, too.”
That passion shone through this week when Humphreys piled into the Scottish pack at the same time as he admitted culpability as a coach for a woeful performance as Scotland’s Six Nations got underway with a 28-6 defeat in Ireland.
Such honesty on the part of Humphreys was typical, according to Lawrie. “It wasn’t just front row play that Jon and I would talk about because he had such a good eye for rugby generally and part of my brief was to take an overview of Lions candidates,” he said.
“There was one occasion we were having a chat and he noted how England were scoring through their left as opposed to right wingers. It was Jon, a hooker, who first raised the issue of the English midfield at the time only being skilful at passing off their right hands. That’s a measure of how much he thought about the game.
“I mentioned this to Peter Rossborough, my Lions counterpart from England, and before you knew it they were taking steps to sort out the problem.”