National duties over, consistent

selection will help Glasgow's cause

SCOTLAND wing Glenn Metcalfe, named as the Famous Grouse Player of the Season earlier this week, will miss Glasgow Caledonians' Celtic League match against Caerphilly on Saturday.

The New Zealand-born Metcalfe sustained bruising to his calf in the opening minutes of the Calcutta Cup match at Murrayfield last Sunday and as a result has been forced to sit it out this weekend.

However, the Reds welcome back victorious Scotland captain Andy Nicol, debutant cap Jason White, and replacement prop Gordon McIlwham from the Scots' winning team, in addition to bench men Alan Bulloch and Gavin Scott.

The selection for this weekend also includes Scotland A squad members Rowen Shepherd, Stewart Campbell, and Jon Petrie, and Scotland Under-21 cap Barry Irvine.

Reds coach Richie Dixon believes his side are approaching a crucial stage in the Scottish/ Welsh League. He said: ''There is a still a quarter of the season to go, and now that the international championship is over, our preparations should be much more focused.

''The problem over the past few months is that players have been in and out of the squad and working with their respective Scotland sides. We should now have a much more consistent selection during this last section of the Celtic League.

''We had that in the games just before Christmas, when we were on something of a roll. I hope that now we know where we are, we can get back to that,'' said Dixon, who knows that his squad have a tough programme before the end of the league.

''We play Swansea at Hughenden next Friday. That will be a hard game for us, because they're going well right now. Swansea are still in the SWALEC Cup.

''Then we play Cardiff away on Good Friday. That will be another really big game, which should attract a huge crowd,'' forecast Dixon.

The match will be an important one for a number of players, not least Rowen Shepherd, who made his return to representative rugby last Saturday in the A international at Goldenacre, where Scotland lost 34-31.

Shepherd, however, posted a robust performance to suggest that the former Scotland full back has made a successful return to professional rugby after a lengthy period sidelined.

''Rowen has had an unfortunate season, but the game on Saturday will give him another opportunity to prove himself. He's done very well to come back after the injury he had,'' said Dixon.

Shepherd damaged a wrist ligament on Scotland's tour of South Africa last summer in the final match against the Gauteng Lions at Ellis Park. The injury prevented him lifting anything, the cure for which was a long period of rehabilitation.

Another player with a lot to prove is the Reds' wing, James Craig. The former St Aloysius' College player made a successful comeback from injury in the Reds' victory over Edinburgh Reivers at Jedburgh with an exciting display that included a try.

Disappointingly, Craig had few opportunities to show his form on the very stage in which a paceman should excel, namely the Hong Kong Sevens. Marked out of the first tie by the host team's well-organised defence, Craig saw little or no action in Scotland's crucial ties against Australia and France.

Against Caerphilly, Craig will want to prove that the form he showed at Jedburgh is sustainable in the Celtic League.

Elsewhere in the side, Gordon Simpson will be be equally keen to demonstrate he has put injury worries behind him, while David Hilton will want to show that problems of a different nature are now history.

Simpson will be at openside flanker, the position in which he was tried during Scotland's 1998 tour of Australia when the former Wellington player first attained international recognition.

Out of contention for the No.7 jersey was Donnie Macfadyen, ruled out of selection because of injury. ''Donnie is probably a week to 10 days away from returning to action,'' said Dixon.

Also in this category are Roland Reid and Scotland hooker Gordon Bulloch. Team:

Glasgow Caledonians - B Irvine; A Bulloch, I Jardine, R Shepherd, J Craig; T Hayes, A Nicol (captain); D Hilton, G Scott, G McIlwham, S Campbell, D Burns, J White, J Petrie, G Simpson. Replacements to be named.

qRUGBY fans raised #16,766 last Sunday at Murrayfield to help injured rugby player Struan Kerr-Liddell, who broke his neck while playing for Edinburgh's Lismore RFC last October.

Kerr-Liddell is receiving treatment in the National Spinal Injuries Unit of Glasgow's Southern General Hospital. Doctors have diagnosed the injury as being the worst rugby-related case since the unit opened in 1992.

An army of helpers, including members of Scotland's 1990 Grand Slam squad, collected for Kerr-Liddell's appeal before and after the Calcutta Cup match.