Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Humphreys sees future for Hamilton

Scotland assistant coach Jonathan Humphreys insists Jim Hamilton still has a Dark Blues future despite lasting just four minutes against Argentina.

The Saracens lock was a second-half replacement for Richie Gray but barely broke sweat against the Pumas before being sin-binned.

The 31-year-old was ordered from the field with eight minutes remaining for killing the ball at a ruck as the South Americans bore down on the Scots' try-line.

His illegal act left the hosts up against it in the final stages at Murrayfield and their five-try heroics from the first hour were soured as they conceded three late scores to win just 41-31.

With the Gray brothers Richie and Jonny now certain to start in the lock positions against New Zealand this weekend and Grant Gilchrist due to return in time for next year's RBS 6 Nations, some pundits have suggested Hamilton's lack of discipline could cost him in the run up to the World Cup.

But forwards coach Humphreys says the 57-cap second-rower still has a big part to play.

"We have had a brief chat with Jim," said Humphreys. "It is always dreadfully upsetting for the individual when you are sin-binned. But it is something we all need to work on.

"It was not just Jim who was committing infringements in that last 15-minute period, it was quite a few of them.

"Will this affect his future chances? No. I'm not just going to identify Jim because it was a lot of people giving away penalties at the end.

"If we are to be competitive as a team, it is down to all of us to make sure we don't do that.

"The perception is that Jim gives away more penalties than others but that may not be true. As a group, though, we need to make sure we learn before the weekend."

Saturday was not the first time Hamilton's lack of discipline has put Scotland in trouble.

He was also yellow carded during the 2013 summer tour of South Africa when he shoved Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth in the face - an act which ultimately swung the game in the favour of the hosts in Nelspruit.

But hooker Ross Ford believes the aggressive streak is crucial to Hamilton's style of play.

He said: "Jim has been a great player for Scotland and his game is about being aggressive and confrontational.

"When he does play he brings that side of his game to the squad and that makes him a leader in the pack.

"He never takes a backward step. Jim plays the way he does because it works for him and it works for the team he plays in - including Scotland - so there is no reason for him to change."

Humphreys, though, admits that Scotland will have to play it smarter when the world champion All Backs visit Edinburgh this Saturday.

Vern Cotter's team had also lost Rob Harley for interfering with an Argentine line-out on Saturday and he only returned to the field as Hamilton was trudging off.

"You can argue whether the yellow cards were just or were they not all you want - but the fact is they were given," he said.

"But we need to make sure we keep our discipline in these areas because we cannot afford to play the last 15 or 20 minutes with 14 men against the best team in the world."

For all that Scotland were impressive for 60 minutes against Argentina at the weekend, the thought of taking on New Zealand - a side they have never beaten in 109 years of trying - is still enough to bring Cotter's relatively inexperienced side out in a cold sweat.

But Humphreys believes the experience will be crucial if the Dark Blues are to grow.

He said: "We try and replicate what the lads will face as much as we can in training but you can't create the experience of playing against somebody like Richie McCaw or Kieran Read. You just have to go out there and do it.

"That's the exciting thing for us, though. There is plenty of 'up' in this team and that is what we are after."


From Belfast Telegraph