It was not clear at Murrayfield yesterday whether Frank Hadden had been in consultation with the Scottish Rugby Union's new master of mind matters (Yehuda Shinar, one-time motivational guru in Clive Woodward's international backroom army) but in naming his team to defend the Calcutta Cup at Twickenham on Saturday Scotland's head coach managed to score a psychological point or two.
Like Brian Ashton a day earlier, Hadden fast-tracked a treasured half-back into Six Nations service almost directly from the injured list - though Chris Cusiter has 60 minutes of club game time behind him, 20 more than Jonny Wilkinson.
Hadden also named a new starter in his pack who was wanted by England at the start of the season, who was discovered by Dusty Hare (for Leicester's academy), educated at Neil Back's alma mater (Coundon Court in Coventry) and groomed in the Martin Johnson school of second-row hard knocks at Welford Road. Jim Hamilton spurned the advances of John Wells, England's forwards coach, before throwing in his lot with the land of his Glaswegian father and making cameo appearances in the autumn as a replacement against Romania - becoming Scotland's 1,000th cap - and Australia.
It was no great surprise that Hadden inked in Cusiter's name at scrum-half after the Borders captain got back to scavenging duties at Newport last Friday, with his left shoulder securely in place after being wrenched from its socket by Viliami Vaki at Murrayfield in November. It was a statement of some intent, however, when the Scotland coach made the call to delegate Scott Murray to bench duty and fill the No 5 shirt with the huge frame of the 6ft 8in, 19st 5lb Hamilton, who yesterday recalled playing for England's under 19s against a Scotland side featuring Cusiter.
"I've not been picked to start sprinting down the wing or to drop goals," Hamilton said. "I'm there to impose my size, and I hope I can do that. Martin Johnson was a massive influence when he was at Leicester - a pretty old-school forward, big and aggressive. I've tried to take that style of play into my game." With George Chuter throwing into the line-out for England on Saturday and Louis Deacon and Martin Corry waiting to collect, the presence of a Tiger in the Scottish pack can at least be expected to ruffle a few red rose petals.
* Ulster's Andrew Trimble will start for Ireland in their opening Six Nations match against Wales on Sunday, replacing Luke Fitzgerald at right-wing after sitting out the final two tests of the Autumn series. Leinster's Gordon D'Arcy, at centre, and Ronan O'Gara at fly-half, are also among the returning members of a team that go into the championship as favourites.Reuse content