With the budget looking flat but player wages and expectations rising, thanks to the English and French, something has to give. I think it will be necessary to bite the bullet and let 5 of the higher-paid players move on - Nel, Gilchrist, Hardie, Manu and Helu. That alone would release enough cash to handle the other pay rises, bring in useful replacements and sort out the back line.
Disagree that one can get by with 3 props at LH and TH, the injury rate is too high, ER just about ran out of road due to injuries and had to cast around to bring in McQuillin, Arregui and Whyte just to put a team out. The pack is pretty strong, it could take some thinning out. Something like this:
Hooker - Ford, McInally, Cochrane, Turner
LH - Dickenson, Sutherland, Dell, Cosgrove
TH - Berghan, newboy, Bryce K, McCallum (given a Pro contract, the young lad has earned it)
Lock 4 - Bresler, newboy, Carmichael
Lock 5 - Toolis, Mata, McKenzie
Blindside flanker - CDP, newboy
Openside flanker - Watson, newboy
8 - Bradbury, Fihaki
BR allsorts - Ritchie
Total: 25 (1 down)
The main issue I think is the back line, there is not really a stand-out player who can make things happen with any consistency from 9 to outside centre. The biggest gap is at outside centre, it needs a Huw Jones or Bennet or similar gifted playmaker, and letting some of the top earners go would provide the necessary. It also needs IMO a third flyhalf/inside centre, two 10s is pretty thin if injury strikes. Something like:
Full back - Kinghorn, Bryce
Wing - Brown, Hoyland, Scholes, Northam (if proves his worth), newboy
O/Centre - Newboy, Rasolea, Tofilau (if proves his worth)
I/Centre - Burleigh, Dean, newboy (covering 10 and 12)
Flyhalf - Weir, Tovey
Scrumhalf - SHC, newboy, Kennedy
Total: 18 (+1)
There are a few promising young Scots around, Mitch Eadie at Bristol (6/8), Scott Steele at London Irish (9), Robbie Ferguson at London Scottish (O/centre), etc., plus George Taylor and others in the academy. It would be a good time to get some experienced younger feet on the ladder and helpful to the old budget.
Last edited by royc
on Mon Dec 12, 2016 6:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.