Rugby: Back tips Laidlaw and other Scots to make the Lions touring squad

Have your say

Neil BACK today drew on the experience of touring three times as a Lion to tip Scotland half back Greig Laidlaw as a contender for the combined side’s summer visit to Australia.

While Back, pictured, has been part of a coaching unit which has struggled to get Edinburgh Rugby moving forward this season, his Lions credentials are impeccable including adding five Tests to 66 England caps at flanker.

Knowing what will be required ‘down under’ Back, who wants to step up from forward duties to head coach at Edinburgh when Michael Bradley departs soon, said: “I think there will be an Edinburgh Lion, definitely there will be Scottish players.

“Greig Laidlaw has a chance. He can play 10 (stand off) as well as scrum half and has proved under pressure he can kick goals as well.”

According to Back the 
Lions’ selection criteria will include the type of character demonstrated by Scotland when achieving an unlikely victory over Ireland with
minimal possession on Sunday.

“In Australia you will need players with the character to fight through the midweek team to put pressure on the Test side. Certainly, the character shown by Scotland at the weekend was fantastic.”

While refusing to blame Edinburgh’s predicament on injuries, he argued that the temporary sidelining of experienced players such as Willem Nel, Izak van der Westhuizen, Ben Atiga and John Yapp has been a factor.

“To build a winning team you need consistency and competition in your squad. That has not been there.

“If you don’t have competition you don’t get to 
the level through pushing yourself.”

With the more experienced non-Scots in and out it was always going to take time for youngsters to develop, added Back. “The experience young players have had has been painful – they will learn. There is a nucleus who are good and could be great.”

On his own ambitions, Back said: “I came as assistant and had previously been a head coach for four years. I want to be a head coach again and would love to do it here.

n RODDY GRANT, 26, has signed a two year contract 
extension for Edinburgh.