Rugby Union: Chalmers out of time as Telfer covers all angles

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The Independent Online
CRAIG CHALMERS' omission from Jim Telfer's World Cup squad appears to signal the end of the stand-off's international career, despite the best efforts of officialdom to deny that he has played his last game for Scotland.

Telfer, the coach, stuck roughly to his expected 30-man party when he announced his squad yesterday, which meant no place for Scotland's most- capped No 10. Having decided to name three specialist scrum-halves but only two hookers, the selectors' only surprise was the introduction of the 21-year-old Chris Paterson as second-choice full-back.

Paterson, who turned professional only a month ago, was part of the Scotland squad which toured South Africa during the summer but had been excluded from the original 33-man squad Telfer named before the recent internationals against Argentina and Romania. However, he did enough during the summer to win the vote over Derrick Lee, who did not impress for Scotland A in the scrappy draw with the Pumas in Perth.

Lee, the former Leicester man Craig Joiner, lock Andy Lucking and back- row Ross Beattie were, along with Chalmers, the players omitted by Telfer and his selection panel. For the 30-year-old Chalmers, who also played for the A team at McDiarmid Park before winning his 60th cap in the full international at Murrayfield five days later, it is a selection which almost certainly ends his international career.

Already behind Gregor Townsend and Duncan Hodge in the stand-off pecking order, Chalmers now also knows that if either of that celebrated duo are injured in the tournament Scotland could still shuffle Paterson to his preferred position of fly-half if required.

"We are not a strong enough country to say this is the end of Craig Chalmers' international career," said the team manager, Arthur Hastie, who broke the news to the player on Monday night. "It came down to a straight choice for the stand-off positions, because we were never going to name three in the final squad."

While Chalmers' exit had been expected, the decision to dispense with Lee's services caught most observers by surprise. "We knew what Chris could do from the South African tour and felt for the balance of the squad that he should be there," said Telfer. "Derrick will no doubt feel he is quite unlucky, but there are a few people in the same position."

The squad which secured the Five Nations' Championship last spring remains almost entirely intact, with the Bath No 8, Eric Peters, ruled out of the tournament with a broken kneecap. John Leslie will not join the squad until 19 September once his club commitments with the Japanese side Sanix are completed, which probably rules him out of the friendly with Glasgow Caledonians two days later.

Scotland then face Edinburgh Reivers on 14 September, by which time Townsend and lock Budge Pountney are expected to have recovered from the knocks which kept them out of the victory over Romania at Hampden Park on Saturday.