Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Beattie: England to cope without Tuilagi

Manu Tuilagi will miss Saturday's Calcutta Cup clash with an ankle injury
Manu Tuilagi will miss Saturday's Calcutta Cup clash with an ankle injury

Johnnie Beattie insists Scotland will not have it easy at Twickenham despite England lining up without Manu Tuilagi.

The Samoan-born centre will miss Saturday's Calcutta Cup clash with an ankle injury as this year's RBS 6 Nations gets under way in London. Whatever Stuart Lancaster he chooses to do, Beattie believes the England boss will not be short on quality when it comes to replacing a player who destroyed New Zealand on his last run-out.

Scotland number eight Beattie, who will make his international comeback after an 18-month exile, told Press Association Sport: "Manu is obviously a very special individual. He's played very well for them in the past. But the problem with playing a nation like England is that they have huge strength in depth."

He added: "One guy like Manu going out, well, they have two or three who can come straight in and they will be very, very capable. So that changes things only a bit for them but doesn't change too much for us."

Tuilagi's injury has left Stuart Lancaster to mull over handing Gloucester's Billy Twelvetrees his international debut alongside Brad Barritt in the midfield or opting for London Irish's Jonathan Joseph.

Alternatively, Lancaster may decided to switch fly-halves Toby Flood or Owen Farrell to centre when he names his starting line-up.

Beattie has not played for Scotland since a home Test with Ireland in August 2011.

That came after an alarming drop in form sparked by shoulder surgery a year earlier, but - having moved from Glasgow to Top 14 outfit Montpellier - his performances have recovered to the level which made him one of the top players of the 2010 Championships.

Now Beattie admits he cannot wait to work more closely with new interim head coach Scott Johnson and his forwards coach Dean Ryan.

He said: "It's hard to tell if there's a freshness about the squad because I haven't been in the national set-up for 18 months. For me, everything is pretty fresh. But I know everyone has been pretty excited about working under Dean and under Scott. Everyone is excited about the challenge that lies ahead of us."

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