BY IAIN COLLIN – Capital City Press
John Beattie has backed Vern Cotter’s selection policy for Scotland’s crunch World Cup clash with South Africa this afternoon.
Cotter’s team has come under massive scrutiny after the likes of Richie Vernon, Gordon Reid and Blair Cowan were all called in for their first appearances in the tournament and Duncan Weir and Fraser Brown were handed their first starts.
However, Beattie, who earned 25 caps for Scotland at number 8 and toured twice with the British and Irish Lions, knows enough about the likes of Vernon and Weir, in particular, to be convinced it is a line-up that can cope with the physicality of the Springboks.
After bonus-point wins over Japan and the USA, the Scots face their biggest challenge yet as they bid to pull off a shock against the Pool B favourites at Newcastle United’s St James’ Park.
Beattie said: “The thinking behind it is, if you’re playing against a huge South Africa team, you pick a big team.
“Richie Vernon we had at West of Scotland when I was coaching there. I had no influence on his career but that boy was 6’5” and a back-row player and then went on to play for the Scotland 7s – he can run.
“Duncan Weir, I first saw play on the rugby pitch across from my house in Glasgow when he was 15 and I said to myself ‘who on earth is that kid?’ He was a wee gymnast and he is an abrasive little rugby player.”
Speaking to the BBC, Beattie added: “I think what he (Cotter) has done, within the realms of fitness, is picked as big a team as you can get to front up against the Springboks, who if they lose the game might as well rip up their passports and stay here.
“I think it’s going to be some game.”