Henderson boost for Hadden

Scotland coach Frank Hadden was handed a significant boost as he wrestles with the most important selection of his tenure when Andy Henderson was cleared to face Wales.

Scotland coach Frank Hadden was handed a significant boost as he wrestles with the most important selection of his tenure when Andy Henderson was cleared to face Wales.

The announcement of Scotland’s squad for the match in the Millennium Stadium was delayed as Hadden ponders his options ahead of his side’s second match in this year’s RBS 6 Nations Championship.

Scotland went into their opening match against new-look France at Murrayfield with high hopes of mounting a serious challenge for the championship.

But such was the dispiriting nature of the 27-6 defeat in Edinburgh that Hadden is now suddenly under the most pressure of his reign as national coach.

While an experienced pack of forwards failed to impose themselves on their youthful counterparts – with the scrum suffering in the second half and the line-out poor throughout – it was the misfiring backline which will be giving the former Edinburgh coach most food for thought.

Swashbuckling full-back Rory Lamont has already been ruled out with shoulder and ankle injuries, further depleting the Scotland coach’s reserves of pace and power.

Meanwhile Nick de Luca endured a miserable debut at outside and Dan Parks - handed the number 10 shirt ahead of Chris Paterson – barely put a foot right.

However, the fact powerful centre Henderson has been cleared to play against Wales despite headbutting a French opponent on Sunday is a major relief to Hadden.

Six Nations citing commissioner Achille Reali decided no action should be taken following the incident involving Damien Traille and the Six Nations disciplinary panel felt there should be no citings from the weekend matches.

Henderson, playing on his 28th birthday for the national side for the 50th time, was incensed after Traille illegally blocked Henderson and then aimed a punch at the Scot.

There was already bad feeling between the two players after a Heineken Cup match between Glasgow Warriors and Biarritz.

Referee Alain Rolland took advice from the television judge and, despite being informed there had been a headbutt, he only warned Henderson and awarded a penalty to France from the halfway line.

A Scottish Rugby spokesman said: “In light of the tight turnaround for this weekend’s international in Cardiff and the medical bulletin from Scotland team doctor James Robson, which reported that several players would require further monitoring and treatment over the next 24-36 hours, we have put back the naming of the team.”

Hadden now has to decide how to tweak his backline to face the challenge of Warren Gatland’s revitalised Wales.

The easiest move would be to draft Paterson into Lamont’s role at full-back – a position he has previously played with success – and leave the rest of the backs alone.

However, he may well be tempted to drop Parks and hand Paterson a recall at stand-off while bringing Hugo Southwell in to replace the injured Lamont.

Finally, he could call Graeme Morrison up from the A side which beat Italy on Sunday and take de Luca out of the firing line.

Whatever changes he makes, the Scotland coach is adamant his side can go to Cardiff and claim victory.

He said: “A six-day turnaround is extremely tough but it doesn’t mean to say we don’t go down there believing we can turn things round.

“I believe the squad is made of pretty stern stuff and we’re determined to put matters right this weekend.

“Wales are a side we know well and we will go down there determined to get the right result.

“We were bitterly disappointed that we let the fans down who came to the France game. We desperately wanted to give them a win but we didn’t do that. We made far too many elementary errors.”

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox