Grandson's debut to cheer voice of Scotland

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The Independent Online

It is fair to say they will be dancing on at least one particular street in Hawick on Saturday, whatever the outcome of Scotland's final autumn Test against the Wallabies at Murrayfield. Bill McLaren, the venerable voice of rugby union on BBC television for nigh on half a century, never quite got to wear the thistle jersey but on Saturday his 24-year-old grandson is poised to make his Scotland debut.

Called into the Scotland squad to replace the injured Chris Cusiter, Rory Lawson was yesterday named as one of the five replacements for a Test in which the Scots will be seeking a first win against Australia since 1982. The Gloucester scrum-half seems certain to be summoned at some stage as a substitute for Mike Blair, with Scotland's coach, Frank Hadden, yesterday re-emphasising his policy of making full use of the bench.

Lawson therefore stands to follow in the stud-marks of his father, Alan, who won 15 caps as a scrum-half for Scotland between 1972 and 1980 - the most notable of them against England in 1976, when McLaren, already his father-in-law, had the pleasure of describing his two tries from the Murrayfield commentary box.

McLaren himself would have doubtless played for Scotland had he not contracted pulmonary tuberculosis while preparing for the trial match at Murrayfield in 1947. His playing career ended at the age of 23 and he took up commentating instead.

Now 82 and four years into retirement, McLaren is unlikely to make it from his home in Hawick to witness his grandson's debut. "I think he would have loved to be at Murrayfield," his grandson said yesterday, "but I think he'll probably be watching from the comfort of his armchair."

Aside from promoting Lawson and Alasdair Strokosch to bench duty, Hadden has made just two enforced changes: Blair for Cusiter, and Dave Callam for the injured Johnnie Beattie at No 8. In contrast, John Connolly has given his wobbling Wallabies something of a shake-up, making five changes to his pack, bringing in Scott Staniforth at inside centre, and restoring Stephen Larkham, Stirling Mortlock and Lote Tuqiri to their former positions.

Murrayfield teams


C Paterson (Edinburgh, capt)

S Lamont (Northampton)

M Di Rollo (Edinburgh)

A Henderson (Glasgow)

S Webster (Edinburgh)

D Parks (Glasgow)

M Blair (Edinburgh)

G Kerr (Borders)

D Hall (Edinburgh)

E Murray (Glasgow)

N Hines (Perpignan)

S Murray (Edinburgh)

S Taylor (Edinburgh)

D Callam (Edinburgh)

K Brown (Borders)

Replacements: R Ford (Borders), A Jacobsen (Edinburgh), A Kellock (Glasgow), A Strokosch (Edinburgh), R Lawson (Gloucester), P Godman, H Southwell (both Edinburgh).


C Latham (Queensland Reds)

M Gerrard (ACT Brumbies)

S Mortlock (Brumbies, capt)

S Staniforth (Western Force)

L Tuqiri (NSW Waratahs)

S Larkham (Brumbies)

M Giteau (Western Force)

D Lyons (Waratahs)

G Smith (Brumbies)

R Elsom (Waratahs)

A Campbell (Brumbies)

N Sharpe (Western Force)

G Shepherdson (Brumbies)

S Moore (Reds)

B Robinson (Waratahs)

Replacements: T Polota Nau, A Baxter (both Waratahs), M Chisholm (Brumbies), P Waugh, W Palu or S Hoiles, J Valentine, M Rogers (all Waratahs).

At Murrayfield, Saturday, kick-off 2.30