Gregor Townsend backing Cameron Redpath to play big role on Scotland debut

Gavin McCafferty, PA
·4-min read

Gregor Townsend claims Cameron Redpath’s “fearless” approach will stand him in good stead when the former England Under-20 international makes his Scotland debut at Twickenham on Saturday.

The Bath centre goes straight into Townsend’s team for the Guinness Six Nations opener after pledging his allegiance to Scotland last month.

The 21-year-old was previously called up for England’s 2018 summer tour but subsequently suffered a serious knee injury and has now chosen to play for the native land of his father, former Scotland skipper Bryan Redpath.

Cameron Redpath was previously in the England set-up
Cameron Redpath was previously in the England set-up (Adam Davy/PA)

French-born Redpath has scored two tries in six appearances for Bath this season and Townsend has seen enough to be confident he is ready for a tough international baptism.

“He has played really well for his club this season,” the Scotland head coach said. “I have been really impressed with him in games where, maybe away from home or up against it, he has had that same fearless mindset of wanting to take on the opposition.

“He is a fierce competitor too and will have a big role to play in defence, but we also see his skills in attack.

“We think it’s the right time for him and each Test match he plays he will learn from those guys inside and outside of him. We have got a few fearless guys in our back line anyway and that’s the mindset you want.

“Whenever you go away from home you want people who are confident to show their strengths and express themselves and when things aren’t going your way, to have a real go at the opposition.

“We have seen that from Cam, he seems really happy with where is in terms of building relationships with Chris (Harris) outside him and Finn (Russell) inside him, and we have seen his skills all week in training.”

Fly-half Russell is back after missing the Autumn Nations Cup with injury while Sean Maitland returns to the starting line-up. Fellow wing Duhan Van Der Merwe makes his Six Nations debut, as does hooker George Turner, who starts in the absence of the injured Fraser Brown and Stuart McInally.

Russell was instrumental in Scotland’s sensational comeback in the 38-38 draw at Twickenham two years ago but Townsend warned that they cannot rely on the Racing 92 stand-off for inspiration.

“Look, it’s important we all have our best games,” he said. “We are playing one of the best teams in the world just now, we are playing them on their own patch.

“So it can’t be down to one player or two players, it has got to be 15, and 23, and our team realise that.

“They know we have to front up at every battle we face, whether that’s set-piece, defence, kick-chase. And when we’ve got the ball, we have to take them on. And we have got to do it for 80 minutes.”

Scotland came back from 31 points down to lead beyond the 80-minute mark on their previous visit in 2019 but Townsend will also take lessons from their victory over England the year before and last year’s narrow 13-6 defeat.

“We have referenced that last three years, which have all been close games,” he said.

“The majority of the players have played in all those games so we take confidence that, when we got things right and played to our potential, we became a real threat for England. That’s what we have to do for 80 minutes on Saturday.”

Townsend is sure the 150-year-old fixture will have “100 per cent” intensity despite the lack of fans and warned that his side would have to make the most of the empty stands rather than hoping for an advantage.

“The first game of the tournament, we play for one of the oldest trophies in sport, 142 years since we have played for the Calcutta Cup, 150 years since this games was first played,” he added.

“So the rivalry will always be there and it should be an intense match.

“It is an opportunity with no crowds, you can’t deny it, but you have got to take the opportunity. It becomes more of a neutral venue but you have got to make sure you play rugby, and not wait for any lack of crowd noise to help you.”