Rugby Union: Reed recalled to Scottish squad: Selectors turn to Caledonian Cornishman to improve line-out strength

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ON THE strength of two comeback matches - and both of those as long ago as November - Andy Reed was recalled to the Scotland squad yesterday, with every chance of recapturing his second-row place in the team to play Wales on Saturday week when the announcement is made on Sunday.

Reed's return now, when he was not considered ready for Monday's unsatisfactory national trial at Murrayfield, is a measure of the Scots selectors' desperation to do something about the line-out that was more or less obliterated by New Zealand seven weeks ago.

The Caledonian Cornishman, 24, was so unexpectedly impressive in this critical area during last season's Five Nations' Championship that he made the Lions' tour to New Zealand, doing well enough to play in the first Test before fading in common with the rest of the Scottish forward contingent.

This season injuries to both knees have meant he has not played in any of Bath's Courage League fixtures. One game against the South African Barbarians at the beginning of November and one against London Scottish at the end of the month was the sum of his activity except for a December training week in Lanzarote.

Whether he makes the Scotland team or not, Reed's selection in this squad of 28 indicates continuing selectorial doubt about Shade Munro, who did not perform in the trial as had been hoped. But at least Munro is in the squad. Three of the Scotland team thrashed by New Zealand - Alan Watt, Dave McIvor and the injured Damian Cronin - are not.

As all of these were in the biggest pack in Scottish rugby history, it is a jumbo-sized admission that selection was considerably awry on that occasion. Not that the greatly changed Welsh, themselves coming off an embarrassing defeat by Canada, will present anything like the same problems as the All Blacks.

Bath's First Division match against Bristol on Saturday is in serious doubt because persistent heavy rain has not allowed the Recreation Ground pitch to recover from the battering it took in Bath's game with Cardiff last Thursday. A decision will probably be taken after an inspection today.

Scotland squad,

Sporting Digest, page 39