It’s a full and proper test match in Dublin tomorrow. Well, for some.
For the players in Scotland’s very second-XV-looking team, it’s a game that could determine whether they get to the World Cup or not.
It’s unlikely Vern Cotter will be as brutal as Warren Gatland eight players purged from the Welsh squad yesterday, including three British Lions given one game to impress but you can make a case for maybe about a third of this Scottish team making the final cut on September 1.
So while it may be a huge match for, say, Jim Hamilton or Tim Visser or Ruaridh Jackson who may not get another chance, for everyone else, especially Cotter and his coaching team, it’s about finding out things.
Cotter himself warned of players who “train badly and play well, or train well but play badly”.
It’s the latter he’s most concerned with and from this we can determine that Greig Tonks has done well in the last 12 weeks of camp, getting the 10 jersey ahead of Jackson and Duncan Weir. Jackson, after ten months out with injury, is at full-back, a position he’s only ever been a stop-gap in.
Tonks is a decent player at a number of positions, but if a falling tree branch were to take out Finn Russell, who’d you feel more confident playing fly-half against the Springboks; Tonks, Jackson, Weir or Peter Horne?
Similarly, Hugh Blake seems to have done well in camp, and Cotter continues to praise the 22-year-old’s virtues despite the fact that the two pro team coaches have given him one start in five months.
Cotter hasn’t picked him either until now. The kid might have potential down the line, but in the present this seems to be something the head coach just needs to get out of his system before reverting to other options, and he might as well get it done now.