Robinson rebuilds back division

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The Independent Online

Andy Robinson had some heartening news to report yesterday at the Murrayfield press conference held to announce the Scotland team to face Italy in Rome on Saturday. Thom Evans remains at the University Hospital in Cardiff recovering from the serious neck injury he suffered in the epic Six Nations encounter with Wales the Saturday before last but happily, after two operations, the Glasgow wing has been back on his feet again. "Thom walked for the first time yesterday," Scotland's head coach said. "He's making a good, positive recovery. A lot of that is down to his strength of mind and his upper-body strength."

It remains to be seen how well the Scottish team as a whole has recovered from the psychological blow of seeing a 24-14 lead turn into a 24-31 defeat in those final four minutes of madness at the Millennium Stadium. In naming a XV featuring four changes of personnel, plus one positional alteration, Robinson exhorted his players to channel the anguish they were left with in the Welsh capital towards creating a joyous, winning experience in the Eternal City.

"If we can't learn the lessons from the Wales game, then we can't move forward as a team," the former England coach said. "But every coaching point we're making now is about Italy and what we have to do to beat Italy. It's not about turning the clock back. I don't think anyone's ever been able to turn the clock back to win a game. There were some really pleasing bits of play throughout the game against Wales, but we cannot take it for granted that we're going to achieve that this week. We're not playing Wales but Italy and it's 0-0. We're starting again."

With the younger of the Evans brothers on the long-term injured list, along with Chris Paterson and Rory Lamont, Robinson starts in Rome with a radically altered back division. Hugo Southwell (who, like the scrum-half and captain, Chris Cusiter, will be gaining his 50th cap) comes in for Paterson at full-back; Simon Danielli replaces Thom Evans on the right-wing; and Max Evans moves up from the bench to outside-centre, with Sean Lamont making the switch to the left wing berth his brother occupied against Wales. The other change comes in the front row, Allan Jacobsen replacing Alasdair Dickinson at loose-head prop.


To face Italy at Stadio Flaminio on Saturday:

H Southwell (Stade Français); S Danielli (Ulster), M Evans, G Morrison (both Glasgow), S Lamont (Scarlets); D Parks (Glasgow), C Cusiter (capt, Glasgow); A Jacobsen, R Ford (both Edinburgh), E Murray (Northampton), J Hamilton (Edinburgh), A Kellock, K Brown, J Barclay, J Beattie (all Glasgow). Replacements: S Lawson, A Dickinson (both Gloucester), N Hines (Leinster), A Strokosch (Gloucester), M Blair, P Godman, N De Luca (all Edinburgh).