Rugby Union: Burnell looks for a Lions share: Bill Leith reports on the long-term implications behind Scotland A's emphatic 35-14 win in Madrid against Spain

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The Independent Online
A BOLD Scottish rugby initiative which could have far-reaching consequences has been successfully launched in the unlikely setting of Madrid.

There, Scotland A, with prop Paul Burnell moving to loose-head from his traditional tight-head berth, easily beat Spain 35-14. The Scots, fielding nine full caps, scored four tries to two.

Whether Burnell, who has returned 20lb heavier after knee ligament surgery during the summer but apparently fitter and fresher than ever, emerges as the heir to the recently retired David Sole remains to be seen. But Burnell would seem to be one of that rare breed of prop forward able to switch to the opposite side of the front row at top level.

What is certain is that developments are being monitored carefully by the Lions selectors, who should have already noted the 26-year-old London Scot as they draw up their plans for next spring's tour of New Zealand given the advanced age or limited experience of principal challengers.

Besides seeking a replacement loose-head prop Scotland are obliged to identify both a new captain and inside-centre. Indications are that Chris Gray's vast experience of leading Nottingham - this is his fourth consecutive season as skipper - could well be tapped since a reconstructed Scottish line-out featuring Gray, Andy Macdonald and Doddie Weir mopped up possession against Spain and the last-named now looks bound to continue his international career at No 8, having finally forsaken the second row.

The jury will, however, be out for some time on the question of a successor to Sean Lineen who has, like his close friend Sole, called it a day.

Ian Jardine took his chance well in Madrid but the selectors will obviously be checking on the form of the twice-capped Graham Shiel when he returns from an extended stay in Australia.

Indeed, there is no real rush for the Scots, because ground redevelopment at Murrayfield means they will have no full international by way of a warm-up for the Five Nations series. Preparations will continue to revolve around the A team, who will be in action twice more this year - against Italy and Ireland.

Scotland: Tries Moncrieff, Roxburgh, Wyllie, Logan; Conversions Townsend 3; Penalties Townsend 3. Spain: Tries Gutierrez, Azkorgorta; Conversions: Puertas 2.

SPAIN: F Puertas; P Martin, J Azkargorta, J Rivero, J Hermosilla; O Garcia, J Diaz; J Alvarez (capt), F Castro, X Alducin, M Auzmendi, A Malo, J Etxeberria, E Illaregui, J Gutierrez.

SCOTLAND A: K Logan (Stirling County); D Stark (Boroughmuir), G Townsend (Gala), I Jardine (Stirling County), M Moncrieff (Gala); D Wyllie (Stewart's Melville), G Oliver (Hawick); P Burnell (London Scottish), I Corcoran (Gala), A Watt (Glasgow High/Kelvinside), C Gray (Nottingham, capt), A Macdonald (Heriot's FP), D Turnbull (Hawick), G Weir (Melrose), A Roxburgh (Kelso).

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