Six Nations Pass Notes: Scots willing to utilise all available departments

Vern Cotter’s done a decent job since taking over before the November Test series last year.

Scotland coach Vern Cotter.

Scotland coach Vern Cotter.

 

Right let’s get the controversy out of the way first. Who in the William Wallace is Hugh Blake?

Much like the way some of the Scottish-themed movie Braveheart was filmed in Ireland, young Blake is New Zealand born and bred but has been called into Scotland’s squad by new coach, Vern Cotter.

Nothing wrong with that as there have been a fair few kilted Kiwis who have worn the thistle down through the years.

Yeah but they’ve usually played a game or two for a Scottish club before having to learn the words to Flower of Scotland. Blake has only managed a game for what we’ll call Edinburgh A over the Christmas period. He’s yet to play for the full team.

He must be brilliant then?

No one’s quite sure. He’s previously played for New Zealand under-20, so he must be a decent enough operator but despite playing about 20 matches for Otago since his debut in 2012, he’s never played a Super 15 match for the Highlanders, just been part of their wider training squad.

So why did fellow Kiwi Cotter parachute him into the Scottish squad if he hasn’t played a match as part of a full Edinburgh side?

Apparently he perused some video footage.

How did that go down with the local media and former players?

About as well as you’d expect. They went from nought to outrage in about half a sentence.

It must be unprecedented in a Scottish context?

No, it’s not. In 2001 fullback Brendan Laney arrived from New Zealand on November 3rd and on November 21st was part of a Scotland team that took on, coincidentally, the All Blacks at Murrayfield.

Right enough about one of four uncapped Scottish players in their Six Nations squad, how are they going to do?

Cotter’s done a decent job since taking over before the November Test series last year. Scotland beat Argentina and Tonga and were competitive in defeat, 24-16, to a largely second string New Zealand team. The coach’s track record with Clermont Auvergne suggests that his team will be well organised. They have some good backs too particularly centre Mark Bennett, try machine Tim Visser and Stuart Hogg if the latter recovers from a hamstring issue in time to face France.

So finally back to Blake, what’s to become of him?

Let’s just hope he proves as popular as his fictional namesake in the television series MASH – although doesn’t meet the same end. When actor McLean Stevenson decided to leave the 4077th and the series, his character was killed off (unseen) while returning to America.

Pick up your free Six Nations 2015 magazine with Wednesday’s Irish Times.

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