What the Scottish newspapers are saying ahead of Sunday's Test at Murrayfield.
News that Scotland's star player, centre Matt Scott, will miss the game against the Springboks is dominating what little rugby union coverage there is in the newspapers on Wednesday.
The Scottish Daily Mail says: 'Scotland's hopes of pulling off a famous victory against South Africa have been dealt a major blow after centre Matt Scott was ruled out for the rest of the autumn series through injury'. Rob Robertson views Scott's absence as significant, as it will not only rob Scotland of their best attacking player, but also force the team to reshuffle and go into a tough Test with an unsettled combination.
'Perfect time to accentuate the positives' reads the headline in the The Herald. Writer Alasdair Reid notes the injury blows and how they will leave the Scots short on quality, the loss of Scott in particular, and also admits that prop Euan Murray, who is unavailable to play on Sunday because of his religious beliefs, will be missed. However, Reid remains optimistic. He draws a parallel between this Scotland side of 2009 and the current group, focusing on the form of both teams in the first game of the November series. Reid writes that it is possible for the current team to emulate Andy Robinson's side, who rebounded from an unconvincing 23-10 win over Fiji to beat Australia 9-8 the following week. There has been criticism following Scotland's recent 42-17 victory against Japan, particularly of the defence, but Reid believes this will all be forgotten if Scotland 'manage any sort of win against South Africa'.
David Ferguson of The Scotsman looks at the options available to national coach Scott Johnson, and predicts that Johnson will pick a team that is 'part design, part enforced'. Ferguson refers to the lengthy list of injuries, and how this will necessitate a reshuffle, particularly in the back row. He talks of lock Jim Hamilton and flank Alasdair Strokosch possibly returning to the starting line-up, given the success they enjoyed against South Africa in the Test played this past June. Ferguson adds that all the injuries will force Johnson to rethink his strategy against a team as strong as the Boks.
Johnson will announced his match 23 on Wednesday afternoon.
Boks need to back up hype
The Springboks can’t talk of closing gap on the All Blacks until they consistently set similar standards to the All Blacks, writes MARK KEOHANE in Business Day newspaper.
Pollard – The future is now
Springbok flyhalf Handré Pollard is on the cover of the new SA Rugby magazine, on sale now.
Bakkies goes out with a bang
Bakkies Botha has retired with his legacy intact and with the Springboks well covered in the enforcer position, writes JON CARDINELLI.