24 Feb Cotter expects bench to be vital
Head Coach Vern Cotter believes strong performances from the bench will be vital if Scotland are to overcome Wales this Saturday at BT Murrayfield (KO 2.25pm) – live on BBC.
Scotland have not beaten Wales since 2007 and have won three out of their last 18 meetings between the sides. Cotter, although weary of the threat this Welsh pose, believes the full squad will have a vital role to play.
He said: “Wales are a bigger team than us. They are very experienced, powerful and have the most test caps out of any team in the tournament.
“Looking at Wales’ profile they are probably a better second-half team than first half team. So having people with different profiles on the bench is very important to us.”
Cotter has made five changes to the team that narrowly lost to France a fortnight ago. Injured captain Greig Laidlaw is replaced at scrum-half by Ali Price while back-row John Barclay takes over as skipper.
Other injury-enforced changes include Ryan Wilson, who replaces Josh Struass at number 8, while Harlequins winger Tim Visser comes in for Sean Maitland who failed to recover from a rib injury he picked up last weekend playing for Saracens.
Two tactical changes see Gordon Reid and John Hardie get their first starts of the tournament, replacing Allan Dell and Hamish Watson on the bench.
“Hamish (Watson) can come on and carry towards the end of the game which will give us important momentum. Tim (Swinson) has been doing a great job and he has been coming on as a lock or a loose forward. It’s good having a player that can play two positions on the bench.
“Gordon Reid comes in to make up an all Glasgow front-row and an all Edinburgh front-row on the bench – so they all know each other well.
“Henry Pyrgos offers leadership off the bench as well if we need it.
“It’s about balancing up, making sure we can stay in the game and get the result.”
He added: “It’s a home game, it’s Wales – we pushed them close the last couple of times but we want to tip them over this time.”