Hines set for Scotland comeback

Burly lock Nathan Hines looks set to return to the Scotland team for the Six Nations match against Wales at Murrayfield on Saturday.

The Australia-born lock has been out of action since December after breaking a bone in his foot while playing for his club side, Perpignan, in their Heineken Cup victory over Olympique Castres.

Frank Hadden, the national coach, has confirmed that Hines is once again available for selection and he is thought to be in line for a recall to the team for their game at Wales.

But Hadden, who will name his side on Wednesday, was refusing to give any hints.

“Nathan started training with us full-time last Wednesday and so is available for selection,” said the Scotland coach.

“He is available so it’s up to us whether we pick him or not.”

Given that a big part of Scotland’s problems in Saturday’s 42-20 defeat to England stemmed from a failure to match England’s brawn in the forward exchanges, it seems highly likely that Hadden will turn to the 38-times capped lock.

Hadden has gained a reputation as one of his country’s toughest competitors in the pack since making his debut against New Zealand in the year 2000.

Hadden prefers to have a combination in his second row of one genuine line-out specialist and one heavier player to provide a physical edge – so it is possible that the burly Hines will take James Hamilton’s place in the Scottish engine room.

Hadden also revealed that he was hopeful about the prospect of Hugo Southwell recovering from the knee ligament strain he picked up against England in time for the Wales match.

Southwell did not take part in Monday’s training session but has not been ruled out of contention and Hadden remains confident he will feature.

The full-back is receiving extensive physiotherapy from Scotland medics Stuart Barton and Stephen Mutch and will be further assessed before the side is confirmed.

“Hugo has got a slight knee problem which is being monitored at the moment,” Hadden said.

“It didn’t look too good on Sunday, but looks a lot better today.

“I don’t know how long he will be out for. There was a feeling at one stage that it might be a few weeks, but that’s not the case now. He’s not been ruled out yet.”

If Southwell fails to make it in time to start, Hadden is confident that his squad has enough strength in depth to cope.

“I’m pretty happy with the competition we’ve got for places. We have so many young and hungry guys trying to fill spaces in the squad and full-back is the same as anywhere else.”

Hadden also hinted that forward Allister Hogg may also return to the starting line-up after playing 20 minutes from the bench against England.

Meanwhile, Simon Webster and Mike Blair are “not far away” from being ready to return to the national set-up after recovering from ankle and shoulder injuries respectively.

“In an ideal world you wouldn’t have too many of them playing at once because they’re not all that match fit, but we have to try and generate that [match fitness] because there are only six games to go until the World Cup,” said Hadden.

365 Digital

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