New regulations imposed by the International Rugby Board mean that, after 1 January, no player will be permitted to appear for more than one country. So the convenient timing of a supposed A team run-out against the Dutch means that Paul Johnstone, a 29-year-old prop, and Bedford's player-coach, Alistair Murdoch, can make their Scotland debuts despite having played Test rugby for Zimbabwe and Australia respectively. Murdoch will start on the bench but will come on at some point in a game which the Scotland selectors insist will be treated as seriously as any international.
The team selected is primarily the one around which the A team for next year's Six Nations' Championship will be built and includes the half-back partnership of Chris Paterson and Iain Fairley, who were both part of the full squad for the recent World Cup.
The veteran Newcastle back-row, Peter Walton, is also included, as is the Edinburgh Reivers winger Conan Sharman, who has been impressive this season. His Reivers team-mate and Scotland A captain, Graham Shiel, said:"Conan is exceptionally quick and we haven't been able to utilise that as much as we would have wished so far."
The Dutch were heavily beaten by England and Italy in the qualifying stages of the World Cup and were eventually eliminated by Korea. They are currently in preparation for a second tier Five Nations' Championship to be held in the New Year but are not expected to cause too many problems for the home team.
SCOTLAND (v Netherlands, Murrayfield, 21 December): D Lee (Edinburgh Reivers); C Moir (Northampton), D Officer (Harlequins), G Shiel (capt), C Sharman; C Paterson, I Fairley (all Edinburgh Reivers); P Johnstone (Bristol), G Scott (Glasgow Caledonians), M Proudfoot (Edinburgh Reivers), R Metcalfe (Northampton), I Fullarton (Edinburgh Reivers), P Walton (Newcastle), G Dall, C Hogg (both Edinburgh Reivers). Replacements: S Brotherstone (Brive), G McIlwham, J White (both Glasgow Caledonians), I Sinclair, G Burns (both Edinburgh Reivers), A Murdoch (Bedford), A Bulloch (Glasgow Caledonians).Reuse content