Scotland plan for battle with France

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The Independent Online

The alarm bells were ringing at Murrayfield yesterday - just as Andy Robinson was about to sit down in the Rowan Suite to name his starting XV for Scotland’s Six Nations opener in Paris on Saturday. Thankfully, it proved to be a false alert, leaving Scotland’s head coach clear to concentrate on dousing the fire he expects his side to be confronted with from the French forwards at Stade de France.

The former England head honcho and tough nut openside flanker spoke of the need to have “players who can go toe to toe with the French” in outlining the selection of veteran lock Nathan Hines on the blindside flank in a back row minus Johnnie Beattie, the Glasgow Number Eight having been deemed to be some way short of Test match fitness on the comeback trail after shoulder surgery. “In the first 20 minutes we’ve got to not only match them; we’ve got to take them on,” Robinson added. "What Nathan brings to the party is his raw aggression and physicality and I think that’s important to us.

“The French beat us last year because of the power of their scrum and their mauling in the line-out. We need to be able to stand up to them and stop them getting any momentum.”

Robinson has made changes behind the pack, giving Northampton’s Joe Ansbro his first start outside the recalled Nick de Luca in the centres, though it is clear that his priority is to meet fire with fire against a French XV who will be burning to erase the memory of the 59-16 thrashing they suffered against Australia in November.

Marc Lievrement, the somewhat under the cosh French head coach, has switched Damien Traille from outside-half to full-back and omitted the 68-cap Toulouse centre Yannick Jauzion from his 22.