Rivalry in focus: Centres
With the 150th anniversary 1872 Cup clash against Glasgow Warriors at BT Murrayfield fast approaching (30 December, kick-off 7.35pm), we’re taking a closer look at the positional groups from both sides of the M8 as Scotland’s international stars come together for the Autumn Nations Series.
With our very own Mark Bennett and Glasgow Warriors’ Sione Tuipulotu linking up in Scotland’s midfield against Australia this Saturday, we analyse four centres from both sides of the rivalry that could lock horns in world rugby’s oldest intercity derby.
Tickets for the unmissable deciding leg of the derby – which takes place at BT Murrayfield on Friday 30 December – go on public sale this Tuesday 1 November. Don’t miss out and secure your place at the 150th anniversary clash!
The Cumnock RFC man starts for Scotland this Saturday where he’ll be champing at the bit to put in a big performance in the No. 13 jersey.
Bennett’s resurgence at international level comes off the back of a hugely impressive first year under a new Head Coach in Mike Blair, where the livewire outside centre has so often provided a spark in the capital midfield.
Although the inside centre picked up a knock in the home bonus-point win over Benetton earlier this month, Lang’s performances up until that point have been hugely impressive.
A brave ball carrier with a balanced skillset, Lang has bossed the 12 channel for Edinburgh while providing a secondary playmaker option outside stand-off Blair Kinghorn.
He’s been made to wait for his opportunity in Edinburgh’s midfield, but Currie was mightily impressive when handed his second start of the season against Zebre Parma last weekend.
The outside centre provided two try-assists with beautifully weighted looping passes while the former Dumfries and Merchiston man grabbed a score of his own late the second-half in Parma.
Edinburgh Rugby’s most experienced centre, club centurion Chris Dean bounced back from an injury-hit campaign in 20-21, to finish the season as one the team’s most consistent and impressive performers.
Dean has hit the ground running in 21-22, with a length-of-the-field try against Dragons RFC at DAM Health Stadium in Round 1 a major highlight so far.
The abrasive centre has been one of the Warriors’ most consistent performers this season, providing a powerful go-forward option in the Glasgow midfield.
Tuipulotu has made 17 successful carries (51st in the league) and two clean breaks, while the 25-year-old – who arrived at Scotstoun last season – has also popped up with two turnovers.
Named Glasgow Warriors club captain by new Head Coach Franco Smith, Steyn is a leader in defence who provides a steady hand going forward, starting in four matches so far this campaign.
Still just 28-years-old, Steyn burst onto the scene for Scotland 7s, before making his international debut against France at BT Murrayfield in March 2020.
The powerful inside centre suffered a facial injury against Cell C Sharks in South Africa that will keep him side-lined for a number of weeks, but Johnson had started all three matches up until that point.
Seen as one of Scotland’s go-to options in the No. 12 jersey, Johnson’s bravery and abrasiveness in contact means he is so often the first option or strike runner straight from set-piece.
McDowall has been at Scotstoun since 2017, but it is perhaps only this season that we’re seeing the best of the 6ft 4in former Ayr and Stewarty man who, in his own words, has this year ‘been liberated by Franco Smith.’
McDowall grabbed a score his side’s Round 7 home win over Benetton – his second of the season – while he has gained 93 metres on the ground in 24 carries so far this campaign.