Six days on and still the aftershock of the All Black collision at Murrayfield was being felt by Scotland yesterday. The lingering effects of the shoulder injury suffered by Max Evans in the final knockings of the thudding 49-3 defeat caused the Glasgow outside-centre to be withdrawn from the starting XV, whose mission will be to try to pick up the pieces, for Andy Robinson's side against South Africa in Edinburgh this afternoon.
Into the breach to claim the No 13 jersey comes Joe Ansbro, the uncapped Northampton centre-cum-wing, who was hastily withdrawn from the Scotland A team to face the United States in Galashiels last night. Born in Glasgow and raised in Scotland's south-west, at Gatehouse of Fleet, Ansbro was a member of the Scotland A squad who won the IRB Nations Cup under Robinson's guidance in Romania in the summer of 2009. The 25-year-old may have spent much of his time in the wings for the Saints this season, being deployed principally off the bench by Northampton in the English Premiership, but he is seen as no ordinary Joe by Scotland's head coach.
Indeed, Robinson has ventured as far as to compare Ansbro with that most princely of centres from his own playing days with Bath, England and the British and Irish Lions. "I think he is similar to Jeremy Guscott in that he will find an angle and go," Scotland's head coach said. "He's got that touch of pace we need."
Scotland could certainly do with a hurry-up on the try-scoring front. In their last six Test matches they have crossed the opposition whitewash only twice, on both occasions courtesy of forwards: Johnnie Beattie against the Irish in March and Jim Hamilton against Argentina in June. Not that the solving of that one particular Achilles' heel will be Robinson's priority when he sends out his team to face a Springbok side who arrived on their European tour portrayed as makeweights but who have proven too strong for Ireland and Wales over the past fortnight.
Having gone into last week's autumn internationals opener on the back of four unbeaten matches, including hard-earned wins on the road against Ireland and then Argentina, the Scots find themselves urgently needing to steady the ship after leaking the biggest haul of points in a home Test since the Olivier Magne-inspired French racked up 51 on the Murrayfield scoreboard back in 1998.
In deploying the combative second- row veteran Nathan Hines as a blindside flanker, in a starting XV in which Rory Lawson comes in for the injured Mike Blair as both scrum-half and captain, Robinson has set out his intention to take on the Boks at their own uncompromising game – and to throw a sizeable spanner into the works of their line-out at the same time.
"We need to front up," Robinson said. "We know the Springboks will come route one. We're expecting them to try to run over us as well as through us. We need a performance this weekend. We need to bounce back."
Scotland H Southwell; N Walker, J Ansbro, G Morrison, S Lamont; D Parks, R Lawson (capt); A Jacobsen, R Ford, E Murray, S MacLeod, R Gray, N Hines, J Barclay, K Brown. Replacements D Hall, M Low, R Vernon, R Rennie, G Laidlaw, R Jackson, C Paterson.
South Africa Z Kirchner; G Aplon, F Steyn, J de Villiers, L Mvovo; M Steyn, F Hougard; T Mtawarira, B du Plessis, J du Plessis, B Botha, V Matfield (capt), D Stegmann, J Smith, R Kankowski, Replacements A Strauss, C J van der Linde, F van der Merwe, W Albert, R Pienaar, P Lambie, A Jacobs.Reuse content