Six Nations: Scotland happy Euan Murray is back for Saturday service

 

For Scott Johnson, there was never any doubt about who would be the cornerstone of the Scotland scrum against Wales at Murrayfield tomorrow afternoon.

Geoff Cross, a qualified doctor, might have put in a fine shift as tighthead prop in the odds-defying, territory-and-possession-defying 12-8 win against Ireland in Edinburgh a fortnight ago, but the No 3 jersey was always going to be handed back to Euan Murray, the qualified vet who keeps the Sabbath clear for prayer.

“Euan is a quality rugby player,” said Johnson, who is on a roll of two successive victories as Scotland’s interim head coach. “People forget that, with all of the other issues and comments that everybody has. But underneath he’s a quality rugby player, a world class tighthead.

“He was one of the surprise packets when I first took the Scotland job. I’d coached against him and never really appreciated how good a tighthead prop he was – both in the set-piece and around the park.

“I think a lot of that has been lost in other comments about his personal life. The fact is he’s a quality tighthead prop.”

In last season’s Six Nations Murray found himself playing second fiddle for the No 3 spot behind Cross in Saturday fixtures against Ireland and Italy. Johnson, who has succeeded Andy Robinson on a temporary basis, was asked whether he was comfortable with the fact that the 32-year-old Worcester Warrior was available for some games but not others, Murray having announced in 2009 that he would not play on Sundays because of his Christian beliefs.

“Look, the reality is that the kid has made a decision,” Johnson replied. “I’m not judge and jury. I’ve got a job to do, to coach a team.

“Yeah, we’d like the best players available all the time, but the trick from our side is that if a kid gets an opportunity like Geoff he’s got to keep doing it, at all levels. Geoff did everything we asked him to do against Ireland. Fair play to him; he did really well.

“But we have to acknowledge that in the two previous games Euan was nothing short of sensational. Euan’s got good runs on the board. He provides us with an edge.”

Murray’s non-playing Sabbath stance has made him unavailable for some major games for his country – the 2011 World Cup pool decider against Argentina, the visit of the All Blacks last November, the Ireland match a week last Sunday – and has coincided with a peripatetic existence at club level. In the past 12 months he has moved from Newcastle to Agen to Worcester.

“The last year has been difficult,” he acknowledged. “Moving around with your family, uprooting them...it’s quite tough, living out of bags and things. You’re thrown in the deep end  a wee bit in certain situations. Sometimes you sink; sometimes you get your head above the water.

“But it’s been fun. And I’m always learning stuff. I learned a lot under Andy Robinson and it’s great to work with Massimo [Cuttitta, Scotland’s specialist scrum coach]. He’s an outstanding scrummaging coach. It’s good to be under his tutelage.”

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most