Competition fierce for Scotland places

Johnny Beattie
Beattie has been left out of Robinson's squad for the World Cup in New Zealand

Scotland will head to this year's Rugby World Cup in New Zealand without influential number eight Johnnie Beattie, who has been left out of head coach Andy Robinson's 30-man squad.

The Glasgow forward has struggled to find form since returning from injury and his non-selection highlights how competitive the back row has become.

Beattie's Glasgow team-mate Richie Vernon is now likely to be the number one pick at the back of the scrum.

Robinson named his pool of players at a press conference held in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, 48 hours after winger Nikki Walker had been ruled out of the tournament suffering a knee injury late in Saturday's 23-12 win over Italy at Murrayfield.

Scotland will open their World Cup campaign against Romania in Invercargill on 10 September and Robinson will choose from a squad which consists of 17 forwards and 13 backs.

Forwards

In the front row Ross Ford, Scott Lawson and Dougie Hall will travel as hookers. Alasdair Dickinson and Allan Jacobsen are selected at loose-head prop while the tight-heads will come from Geoff Cross, Moray Low and Euan Murray.

The scrum was a problem area for Scotland in last year's Six Nations Championship and Robinson will want to go to New Zealand with plenty scrummaging options. Also Euan Murray would be unavailable for selection on religious grounds for the Argentina match which takes place on Sunday 25 September.

Four locks will take their seats on the plane, hopefully with plenty of legroom. Captain Alastair Kellock will link up with Glasgow team-mate Richie Gray, Jim Hamilton of Gloucester and Nathan Hines. Hines is also able to operate in the back row and was used there in the 2011 Six Nations.

The absence of Johnnie Beattie will mean no reunion of the "Killer B's" with Kelly Brown and John Barclay in the back row.

Brown and Barclay will both surely be seen as first choice picks and it's expected that Vernon will start at number eight, although Brown has operated at number eight. Ross Rennie and Alasdair Strokosch complete the forwards.

Backs

In the backs Chris Paterson will travel to New Zealand to take part in his fourth World Cup. He's been picked primarily at full-back but can also fill the number 10 jersey as cover for Ruaridh Jackson and Dan Parks.

Rory Lamont will also travel as a full-back, while on the wings Robinson has selected Simon Danielli, Max Evans, and Sean Lamont. Both the Lamont brothers can play in other positions while Max Evans has also operated well at centre.

Man-of-the-match on Saturday Nick De Luca will add some flair to the centre, with the promising pairing of Graeme Morrison and Joe Ansbro also selected in the midfield.

At scrum-half there is an embarrassment of riches with the British Lions pairing of Mike Blair and Chris Cusiter selected alongside Rory Lawson.

Overall

Perhaps the most significant outcome of the two warm-up matches against Ireland and Italy was that a 100% record was secured even with 14 team changes. That shows that Robinson has something all coaches crave: options.

There is competition within the squad for most places particularly at scrum-half and in the forwards.

While only 13 backs have been selected many of the personnel named can switch positions with varying effect.

That means that Robinson can plan varying strategies for the tournament to take account of Scotland's opponents, although the coach would always argue that Scotland's prime intention is to be proactive rather than reactive.

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