Robertson Backs Stand-Off Jackson

Scotland under-20 head coach Colin Robertson praised Ruaridh Jackson's competitive streak after handing the Glasgow youngster the number 10 shirt for the 6 Nations match against Ireland at Dubarry Park on Friday evening (22 February, kick off 7.30pm).Scotland under-20 head coach Colin Robertson praised Ruaridh Jackson's competitive streak after handing the Glasgow youngster the number 10 shirt for the 6 Nations match against Ireland at Dubarry Park on Friday evening (22 February, kick off 7.30pm).

Jackson recorded his first Magners League appearance of the season when he came off the bench during Glasgow's defeat at Llanelli Scarlets on Friday night and impressed Robertson with his tenacity.

Now the 20-year-old has been assigned the role of stand-off; replacing James Murray; after previous outings at outside centre during Scotland's opening two defeats against France and Wales.

Robertson said: "Ruaridh certainly is a competitor as he showed for Glasgow the other night. He is a tidy player, a balanced stand-off with good passing skills.

_x001C_Both Ruaridh and James Murray are good stand-offs, but they have slightly different styles. James has done a lot of good stuff, but we are just looking at slightly different approaches during a 10-Test season."

Team manager John Jeffrey also highlighted Jackson's creativity and believes the young Warrior will make an impact against Ireland.

Jeffrey said: _x001C_Ruaridh has got very good distribution skills. He will be able to move the ball to the backs._x001D_

Jeffrey pinpointed a lack of accuracy during the side's previous two matches as being the chief factor behind the team's lack of initial success.

He added: _x001C_We looked at our two previous matches so far and we felt we had not been accurate enough.

_x001C_We have had stages where we have done well, but that has not been for long enough.

_x001C_We have not executed our plays well enough, so we have been working on that to make sure we get it right._x001D_

Meanwhile, Jonny Baird, son of former Scotland and British and Irish Lions winger Roger, returns to the base of the scrum after a lay-off with blurred vision.

Jeffrey believes the Edinburgh-born teenager will bring poise and mobility to the Scotland pack for what will prove to be a gruelling test.

He said: _x001C_Jonny is a genuine No8; he brings control to the base of the scrum and adds some athleticism as well.

_x001C_But Craig Simmonds came in and did a good job for us against Wales, so for that he has kept his place on the bench and we will use him as an impact substitute._x001D_

London Scottish's Matthew Heeks has been selected to start alongside Jackson in a new-look half-back combination while Chris Kinloch moves from the wing to outside centre.

Dunfermline's Johnny Smart has been handed the number 11 shirt and steps up after impressing at under-19 level.


Scotland under-20 squad to play Ireland at Dubarry Park, Athlone (Friday 22 February, kick-off 7.30pm)

15 Murray Allan (Loughborough University)

14 Tom Bury (Boroughmuir and National Junior Academy)
13 Chris Kinloch (Edinburgh Academicals and National Senior Academy)
12 Stephen McColl (Dunfermline and National Junior Academy)
11 Johnny Smart (Dunfermline)

10 Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow Hawks and National Senior Academy)
9 Matthew Heeks (London Scottish)

1 Gary Strain (Glasgow Hawks and National Junior Academy)
2 Adrian Duncan (Stewart's-Melville FP and National Senior Academy)
3 Lewis Niven (Edinburgh Academicals)
4 Josh Brown (Bristol)
5 Neale Patrick (Dunfermline)
6 Fraser McKenzie (Heriot's and National Senior Academy)
8 Jonny Baird (Watsonians)
7 Lewis Calder (captain, Newcastle Falcons)

Substitutes: Fraser Brown (Biggar), Angus Dixon (Aberdeen Grammar Rugby), Craig Simmonds (Heriot's), Steven Burton (Currie), Ross Samson (Newcastle Falcons), James Murray (Leeds Carnegie and Edinburgh Academicals), Lee Jones (Selkirk).