Rugby Union: Selectors give Weir surprise wake-up call: Scottish surprises

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The Independent Online
DODDIE WEIR was yesterday given a wake-up call by Scotland's selectors. The 6ft 7in Melrose forward, capped 19 times, was left out of a reduced national squad of 24 players who will train at Murrayfield on Sunday in preparation for the forthcoming All Blacks visit.

Having named 41 players for squad duty last month the selectors have now split resources into two distinct pools. Weir will instead train at the Edinburgh Academicals ground with a 31-strong joint A and Development XV squad. Both these teams have separate fixtures with the tourists next month.

Weir gained 15 caps at second row followed by four more last season at No 8 but this season has been playing club rugby at blind- side flanker. Scotland's manager, Duncan Paterson, said: 'Doddie has been looked at as a back row and the message coming through is that he has to pick up his performances.'

Demotion comes at an embarrassing moment for Weir who is tomorrow due to collect a sponsored car from a Galashiels garage. Now, unless there is an improvement in his form Weir, a farmer, may be pitchforked back behind the wheel of the modest vehicle in which he rolled up for this year's World Sevens in Edinburgh. Then, by way of a hint to potential sponsors, he had etched the following message on the door panel of his farm truck: 'Doddie's Car - presented by his Dad.'

There are nine uncapped players in the squad and a host more in the back-up contingent, including Heriot's scrum-half Mike Allingham, a cricket international whose elevation means the London Scot Dave Millard is the only one of those summoned to Murrayfield last month to be ditched. Some of the senior squad owe their opportunity to injuries affecting key personnel. Omitted pending further treatment are the first-choice half-backs Andy Nicol and Craig Chalmers as well as Gregor Townsend, Andy Reed and Iain Morrison.

The reserve stand-off Townsend is the only player ruled out at this stage, however, according to Paterson. Townsend has a broken wrist which is expected to sideline him for the next seven weeks. Morrison is due to return at flanker for London Scottish on Saturday following two knee cartilage operations. Reed hopes to be playing by the end of the month following injuries to both knees while Chalmers now looks as if he will avoid surgery on damaged knee capsules and intends playing on Saturday week.

Nicol has appeared in only two of Dundee High's four league fixtures so far due to a groin strain and his absence is particularly worrying in view of Gary Armstrong's decision to rule himself out of further honours at scrum-half.

With the rangy Weir now considered a breakaway forward that means either Andy Macdonald or Shade Munro are likely to make a debut against the All Blacks on 20 November alongside Damian Cronin - unless Reed comes with a late run to retain the place which vaulted him into the Lions party last season.

SCOTLAND SQUAD: Backs: Bray (Harlequins), Dods (Gala), G Hastings, S Hastings (Watsonians), Jardine, Logan (Stirling County), McNaughton (Northampton), Patterson (Edinburgh Acads), Redpath, Shiel (Melrose), Stanger (Hawick). Forwards: Burnell, Cronin (London Scottish), Hay (Hawick), Hogg (Melrose), Macdonald (Heriot's FP), McIvor (Edinburgh Acads), Milne (Heriot's FP), Munro (Glasgow High/Kel), Sharp (Bristol), Smith (Gloucester), Turnbull (Hawick), Wainwright (Edinburgh Acads), Wright (Boroughmuir).

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