B&I Lions watch: Scottish stocks rise
OPINION: The Six Nations tournament before a British and Irish Lions tour is often the final audition players to win over the selectors.
For Scotland, who have been underrepresented in recent years by the B&I Lions, only captain Stuart Hogg is a certainty to travel to South Africa in July this year – if the tour goes ahead.
However, there are a lot of players that will be on head coach Warren Gatland’s radar who know the next few weeks will be crucial.
After completely sucking the life out of England on Saturday for their first win at Twickenham since 1983, Gregor Townsend will know many of his players have now stormed into contention to be Lions at the end of the season. Here are eight of them:
A contender for the Lions going into the match, Hamish Watson’s chances of going to South Africa rose sharply across the 80 minutes. He bounced off English tacklers in typical style all match and simply outworked the opposition back row.
In one of the most stacked positions going into the tour, Jonny Gray can do no more than play like he did at Twickenham. The tackling machine put in a defensive effort everyone expects by now, but also carried relentlessly and wreaked havoc on England’s lineout.
Although Watson may have been the standout loose forward on the pitch, Jamie Ritchie was not far behind. While passion can sometimes boil over into ill-discipline, Ritchie and co. were a model of control while England could barely string a few minutes together without conceding a penalty.
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A rock at the scrum, Zander Fagerson helped completely sabotage England’s set-piece alongside his loosehead partner Rory Sutherland. Both players threw their hat into the ring for selection after that performance.
Duhan van der Merwe
In a match where the England wingers were at worst full of errors and at best entirely anonymous, Duhan van der Merwe completely outclassed them. He showed his power by scoring from an improbable position and was deprived of two tries by the bounce of the ball. He beat as many defenders as England’s whole backline and Gatland must have taken note.
In his first Test, Cameron Redpath produced a varied performance and exhibited what he can offer to Scotland. In trying conditions he ran, passed and kicked well and would have piqued the interest of the Lions selectors.
This was not a flawless performance by Finn Russell but neither was it played in conditions that are conducive to his pyrotechnics. This is the type of game Gatland would have wanted to see Russell control and he did so.
A man of the match display for a player who is all but guaranteed to fly to South Africa, Stuart Hogg should have won over any doubters, if he had any.