None of the 67,500 souls who paid to watch Scotland's false start to the Six Nations Championships at Murrayfield last Sunday would dispute that Frank Hadden's team are in need of a considerable kick up the backside. Who better, then, to have at the rear of the Caledonian XV seeking redemption in the Dragons' den of the Millennium Stadium on Saturday than Christopher Douglas Paterson, whose right boot not once failed to hit the target during the the World Cup last autumn?
Deemed surplus to requirements until the game was long since up in the 27-6 defeat against France last Sunday, Scotland's one man points machine was yesterday restored to the starting line-up for the trip to Cardiff to face Warren Gatland's Welsh revivalists. Though Hadden stated last week that he saw his back-of-all-trades principally as an outside-half, the Scotland head coach has resisted calls for Paterson to replace the misfiring Dan Parks in the pivotal position. Instead, the Gloucester player has been installed in the full-back slot vacated by the injured Rory Lamont. He will also, naturally, assume the goal-kicking duties from Parks.
It will be Paterson's 28th start for his country in the No 15 jersey and his 82nd cap in all, equalling the record tally for a Scotland back held by a fellow son of Galashiels, Gregor Townsend. Asked whether it might have been a mistake to start without the Borderer against France, Hadden said: "We were delighted with what Chris did coming off the bench on Sunday and we're also delighted with him starting at full-back. Dan didn't manage his first kick at goal but then responded by slotting the next one and showing he's got an excellent temperament. While a number of players weren't at their slickest, Chris – despite the fact he hasn't had much game time over the last few months – came off the bench and played very well indeed."
On Sunday's evidence, Hadden's team will need more than the Scot with the golden boot to kick-start their Six Nations campaign. Apart from being fragile in defence, barely traceable in attack, in meltdown at the set-piece and generally as flat as a Dutch landscape in the second half, all went swimmingly.
As part of his rubber ring rescue strategy, Hadden has made only one other change to his starting XV, replacing Edinburgh's Dave Callam with Glasgow's Kelly Brown at No 8.
Jason White was hardly at his battering-ram best last Sunday but Scotland's totemic team-leader retains his place at blindside flanker as well as his captaincy. Serious discussion, however, had been given to the idea of restoring Sale's captain to the second row. "We decided on balance that we wanted to leave him at number six, where he's played for a considerable length of time," said Hadden. "Jason knows full well that he can play better than he's playing at the moment, but his tackle count was pretty impressive last weekend. He just needs to find an extra edge to his game to keep happy himself."
Andy Henderson, of course, showed something of an extra edge last Sunday. Having subjected Damien Traille to a Glaswegian kiss but somehow avoided a citing, he has been picked for his 51st cap. He continues at outside-centre, alongside Nick De Luca, who has been given a chance to shed the nerves that undermined his international debut.
Scotland team to face Wales in the Six Nations on Saturday (Millennium Stadium, Cardiff): C Paterson (Gloucester); N Walker (Ospreys), N De Luca (Edinburgh), A Henderson (Glasgow Warriors), S Webster (Edinburgh); D Parks (Glasgow Warriors), M Blair (Edinburgh); A Jacobsen (Edinburgh), R Ford (Edinburgh), E Murray (Northampton Saints), N Hines (Perpignan), J Hamilton (Leicester Tigers), J White (Sale Sharks, captain), J Barclay (Glasgow Warriors), K Brown (Glasgow Warriors). Replacements: F Thomson (Glasgow Warriors), G Kerr (Edinburgh), S MacLeod (Llanelli Scarlets), A Hogg (Edinburgh), C Cusiter (Perpignan), G Morrison (Glasgow Warriors), H Southwell (Edinburgh).