Hastings tempted by New Zealand

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TIM GLOVER

reports from Pretoria

Gavin Hastings, the Scotland captain who will retire from international rugby following the World Cup, has been made a substantial offer to play in New Zealand. The 33- year-old full-back, who leads Scotland against the All Blacks in the quarter-finals in Pretoria on Sunday, may play for Southland in New Zealand's National Provincial Championship in August.

Southland, who have three players in the current All Blacks squad, Norm Hewitt, Paul Henderson and Simon Culhane, won promotion to the First Division last season and have considerable funds at their disposal. Hastings, who is employed by Carnegie International in Edinburgh as a sports marketing executive, is considering the offer. After the inaugural World Cup in 1987 he stayed on in New Zealand and played for the University Club in Auckland. If Hastings, who intends to carry on for his club Watsonians, played for Southland he would appear in a maximum of eight matches.

Yesterday Hastings had his mind more on New Zealand than Southland and was surprised to discover that his opposite number on Sunday will not be Glen Osborne but the wing, Jeff Wilson. Wilson, formerly with Southland, now with Otago, plays his first Test at full back for New Zealand. Osborne, the only full-back in the squad, has an ankle injury and Wilson, who scored three tries on the wing against Scotland in a 51-15 victory in 1993, takes his place.

Scotland field the team that started the match against France in Pretoria last Saturday. Peter Wright, who has been in the wars with neck and rib injuries, and Graham Shiel, who took a bang on the nose, were replaced during the game against the French and both have been named to play against New Zealand.

Scotland have never beaten the All Blacks and, as it happens, they may not have the satisfaction of doing so on Sunday. Whenever these two countries meet one or the other has to abandon their national colours and yesterday they tossed a coin. The rand went with Duncan Paterson, the Scotland manager, instead of his New Zealand counterpart, Colin Meads, which means that the All Blacks will be playing in white.

Wilson, an exceptional talent in rugby and cricket for New Zealand, is accustomed to playing in black and white. Laurie Mains, the All Blacks coach, said, typically, that having Wilson at full-back "didn't upset our plans at all." As an international cricketer, never mind an All Black, he has, Mains pointed out, great catching skills.

In one respect the injury to Osborne has solved a dilemma for New Zealand. Had he been fit, who would they have played on the wings? They would have had to have chosen two from three: Wilson, the golden boy, Jonah Lomu, the new sensation, and Marc Ellis, who scored six tries against Japan.

SCOTLAND (v New Zealand, Pretoria, Sunday): G Hastings (Watsonians, capt); C Joiner (Melrose), S Hastings (Watsonians), G Shiel (Melrose), K Logan (Stirling County); C Chalmers, B Redpath (both Melrose); D Hilton (Bath), K Milne (Heriots FP), P Wright (Boroughmuir), D Cronin (Bourges), D Weir (Melrose), R Wainwright (West Hartlepool), E Peters (Bath), I Morrison (London Scottish). Replacements: T Stanger (Hawick), I Jardine (Stirling County), D Patterson (West Hartlepool), S Campbell (Dundee HSFP), P Burnell (London Scottish), K McKenzie (Stirling County).

NEW ZEALAND: J Wilson; M Ellis (Otago), F Bunce, W Little (both North Harbour), J Lomu (Counties); A Mehrtens, G Bachop; R Loe (all Canterbury), S Fitzpatrick (capt), O Brown (both Auckland), I Jones (North Harbour), R Brooke (Auckland), M Brewer (Canterbury), Z Brooke (Auckland), J Kronfeld (Otago). Replacements: E Rush (North Harbour), S Culhane (Southland), A Strachan (North Harbour), J Joseph (Otago), C Dowd (Auckland), N Hewitt (Southland).

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