Rugby Union: Back to basics: Bill Leith sets the scene for Scotland's tour of Argentina

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ANDY REED, the Bath lock, leads a depleted Scottish squad leaving tonight on a six- match tour of Argentina during which they will be seeking to put an inventive spark back into the threequarters.

In addition to the six internationals who made themselves unavailable, the Scots have been further hit by withdrawals from the original party. Craig Chalmers was the first to drop out, followed by Ian Morrison, Derek Stark, Andy Nicol, Rob Wainwright and Dougie Wyllie.

Fred McLeod, fresh from helping the Five Nations committee negotiate a new television contract, will manage a 28-strong squad containing 13 uncapped players and is clearly aware of the priorities.

McLeod said: 'The call-offs are a big disappointment but there is still a pretty experienced pack and some young backs with a lot to play for.'

It is eight matches since a Scotland back scored a try, Tony Stanger crossing against Ireland last January, and there are two Tests on the schedule.

The decision to give the captaincy to Reed when Wainwright pulled out is controversial. Reed has limited leadership experience, whereas Paul Burnell, capped 34 times, led London Scottish for most of last season and is the only survivor from Scotland's 49-3 victory against Argentina at Murrayfield in 1989.

Reed said: 'It will be a step up for a lot of our players but that's what tours are about and provided we stick close together we'll do well.'

Tour party and itinerary,

Sporting Digest, page 35