The keys to Scotland unlocking Fiji

Scotland return home for their next autumn international, welcoming Fiji to Murrayfield. We take a look at the key players and their role in delivering a good result.

By Gary Heatly
9th November 2018
By Gary Heatly
9th November 2018

Scotland began their Autumn Test campaign last weekend in Cardiff, but with the first of three home matches taking place this weekend at BT Murrayfield, excitement levels have been cranked up a notch north of the border.

The first team to visit Edinburgh for what will be three superb occasions are the wonderfully entertaining Fiji, who in the last year or so have added some real substance to their obvious talent, and now sit 10th in the world rankings.

As a result, any thoughts of a comfortable Scottish victory to help them bounce back from their Doddie Weir Cup defeat and build easy momentum ahead of the upcoming meetings with South Africa (November 17) and Argentina (November 24) can be put to one side.

This will be a real test for Gregor Townsend’s men and the head coach’s selection reflects that. 

Fraser Brown

The Glasgow Warriors’ hooker came through the ranks at club level as a back-row player and played in the number seven jersey for Scotland in the summer in the win over Argentina.

And while he will have a number two on his back against Fiji on Saturday, his work as an ‘extra’ back-rower and getting over the ball will be key if Scotland are to stifle the visitors’ dangerous attacking game.

Brown is very good at the breakdown area and, if he can stop Fiji getting quick ball, he can ensure Scotland get a good foothold in this game.

His link-up with new second-row pairing Sam Skinner and Grant Gilchrist will also be key.

Jamie Ritchie

The 22-year-old will be earning just his fourth cap in this fixture, but having been handed the number seven jersey, with first choice Hamish Watson resting, he knows it is a big opportunity for him.

Ever since former Edinburgh Rugby head coach Alan Solomons signed Ritchie straight from Strathallan School a number of years ago there have been high hopes for him.

With Scotland’s first choice back-row mix currently up in the air with John Barclay out injured, the fact that Ritchie played six last week and is now at openside shows that Townsend and new forwards coach Danny Wilson rate him at this level.

He will be a big player at the breakdown along with Brown.

Matt Fagerson 

What a day this will be for the 20-year-old No.8 on his home ‘debut’.

Like Jamie Ritchie, it is clear the national team coaching staff are keen on him as a long-term option because he has been picked ahead of the more experienced Josh Strauss and will be in direct competition with ‘Bill’ Mata for Fiji.

Scotland will be looking for him to be solid at the back of the scrum first of all, but defensively they will look for the two time cap to knock back the visitors in the tackle as well as carrying ball and helping present good possession for skipper Greig Laidlaw and the rest of the backline.

The Rugby Magazine

Filed under: International, Fiji, Scotland
Written by: Gary Heatly
Follow: @G_HMedia · @therugbymag

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