Rugby Union: Tukalo out but left in

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IWAN TUKALO must be slowing down a shade. Scotland's most capped wing failed to catch the selectors with a view to telling them he was calling it a day at international level, which is why yesterday he found himself named among the replacements for the Scottish trial at Murrayfield on 2 January.

'I could see the writing was on the wall,' Tukalo said, 'and I tried to quit before the trial teams were announced.' He could not beat the system, though, and while he put in a call to Bill Hogg, the Scottish Rugby Union's secretary was not available.

There are politics involved in the affair, Selkirk's 31-year-old captain and holder of 37 caps not elaborating further other than to say: 'I'm tired of all the anxiety.' After all, it hurts when the end of the road is in sight and the feelings of rejection will not go away.

Peter Jones, the Gloucester prop whose one Scottish cap came as a replacement against Wales last season, must also be experiencing mixed feelings. Called up for Scotland A to face Italy last weekend in place of the injured Alan Sharp, he cannot even win a place on the bench for the trial.

Sharp, another west countryman, is named meanwhile at loose head in the senior Blues team, which may be good news for Scottish scrummaging in the search for David Sole's successor but perhaps not so good for Bristol-Gloucester relations, such as they are.

Sharp, the former England B man, will have a granny to thank if he makes it big north of the border and is one of four uncapped exiles in the team led by Gavin Hastings. Joining him among the forwards are Andy Reed, the 6ft 7in Bath and Cornwall lock, and the London Scots' back row Ian Morrison. Mark Appleson, a full- back for London Scottish, is on the left wing - Tukalo's old position, which brings us full circle.

Andy Nicol, in the Reds team and set for a battle royal at scrum- half against Gary Armstrong, warms up by captaining Scotland A against their Irish counterparts in Dublin next Monday. Nicol's demotion has been prompted by the return to fitness of Armstrong and his own hamstring problems.

Monday also brings the Barbarians to Leicester for the annual Christmas feast and Scotsmen feature prominently here with Hastings and Armstrong tucking in alongside Tony Stanger and Craig Chalmers. Lloyd Walker, the Wallaby Test centre, links with the Scots and the back line is completed by France's Jean-Baptiste Lafond and and Franck Mesnel.

Scott Gibbs is the latest doubt for the East Wales v West Wales match in Cardiff on Monday. The Swansea and Wales centre is suffering from the same shin splints injury that has consigned his team-mate Tony Clement to six weeks in plaster. West Wales have already lost Robert Jones and Ieuan Evans.

Teams, Sport in Short, page 27