Those who are anxiously waiting for coach Vern Cotter to name the players that will feature in Scotland’s starting formation, were surprised by his decision. Earlier this month, he announced that he has a clear strategy for the upcoming matches and told the media that he intends to make some major changes. More on this matter can be found at http://www.scotsman.com/mobile/sport/rugby/latest/vern-cotter-has-progress-in-mind-for-autumn-tests-1-3549460.
Apparently, he stuck to the plan, as he decided to name Grant Gilchrist captain for for the 2014 Autumn Tests, while keeping a couple of prominent players on the bench. Among those that were excluded from the starting formation is Kelly Brown who plays for the Saracens and did a great job over the last couple of weeks. The decision to use Grant as captain is hardly a surprise, given the fact that he has plenty of experience and achieve great things for Edinburgh.
17 players will be selected from those playing at Glasgow Warriors, with 10 other clubs providing players for the Scottish national team. Among those that will make their debut next week is Mark Bennett, who was the man of the match last week went less the Warriors defeated Bath. The victory in the European Rugby Champions Cup is only one of the reasons for why he was selected to play in the test games.
Gilchrist is only 24 years old, but he already led Scotland twice over the summer and one of those gains resulted in an impressive victory over Argentina. Back then, his team scored 21 points while allowing just 19 and Scotland needs to replicate that performance in late October and the first half of November. The games against New Zealand on November 15 and the opening match against Argentina on November 8 are by far the most difficult.
The month will conclude with a match played at Kilmarnock against Tonga, a game that the hosts are expected to win without breaking a sweat. By making these changes in the starting squad and choosing a new captain, the coach intends to strengthen the defensive while providing more options up front.
The game against Argentina is the one that will put the new team to the test, because their opponents have an extremely talented midfield and their players don’t lack the stamina to play at the same level throughout the match. The confrontation with New Zealand is going to be just as difficult, with the All Blacks being by far the best of all rugby teams and their recent victory in the Rugby Championship only serves as an additional argument in favor of this theory.