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Scotland vs. England: 6 Players with a Point to Prove in Six Nations Clash

Danny CoyleFeatured ColumnistFebruary 6, 2014

Scotland vs. England: 6 Players with a Point to Prove in Six Nations Clash

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    Tom Shaw/Getty Images

    Before the championship started, I boldly predicted Scotland would beat England at Murrayfield. Based on both sides’ performances in Round 1 of the Six Nations, that now seems unlikely.

    England were very good, if not brilliant, in Paris, and were unfortunate not to have killed France off.

    Scotland, on the other hand, were abject. So both sides will take the turf at Murrayfield with question marks hanging over them.

    Scott Johnson has rolled the dice, dropping his skipper and leaving British and Irish Lion Richie Gray out of the 22 altogether, while Stuart Lancaster has chosen to stick, not twist.

    Can England scrub out that slovenly start? Can Scotland possibly play as badly again?

    Here are the men with the most to prove on Saturday.

1. Duncan Weir

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    David Rogers/Getty Images

    Weir didn’t get his backs going at all on Sunday in Dublin, but his key strength, as identified by former Scotland skipper Mike Blair, is his boot.

    In the conditions expected at Murrayfield on Saturday, territory will be key, so Weir needs to step and use his shoe leather to put Scotland in the right areas of the field.

    He needs to prove he can use his biggest strengths to run a game against stiff opposition, something he failed to do last week.

2. Jack Nowell

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    Michel Euler/Associated Press

    We saw good and bad from Nowell in Paris.

    He knocked on with his first touch, leading to Yoann Huget’s try, was dumped on his backside the first time he ran into heavy traffic and gave away a daft penalty in the second half.

    But, on the upside, he looked unruffled by the errors and got on with the game. He needs to show he has conquered those debut nerves this weekend and get himself into the game.

    The weather and ropey surface won’t make it a day for free-flowing rugby, so the young Exeter man will need to make the most of the chances he gets to shine.

3. Moray Low

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    David Rogers/Getty Images

    Low was beaten all ends up by Cian Healy last weekend, and he can expect another tough examination from Joe Marler.

    The Harlequins prop came off the field in Paris with a lot of credit in the bank for his performance against France and will be keen to get after Low at Murrayfield.

    Every front-row player will have to contend with the dubious turf under foot thanks to the worm infestation at the stadium.

    Extra motivation for Low not to end up with his nose in the dirt.

4. Lee Dickson

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    David Rogers/Getty Images

    It’s sometimes easy to point the finger at the raft of changes coaches make in the second half as the reason for a swing in a game’s momentum.

    But in Paris, it was evident that the withdrawal of Danny Care took away one of the sharpest tools in England’s box.

    The Quins No. 9 had one of his best games in an England shirt. When he was replaced by Lee Dickson, England lost a bit of their verve and never got it back.

    Inevitably, the Saints man will come on again in Edinburgh, and he will have to prove he won’t be a huge contributing factor to any dilution of what should be a strong position for England.

5. Chris Fusaro

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    Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

    Fusaro’s selection has been the biggest talking point in Scott Johnson’s lineup.

    Fusaro replaces captain Kelly Brown with Johnson citing his specialism as a "ground feeder" the reason for his selection.

    That places a great weight on Fusaro’s shoulders with Johnson clearly expecting his new openside flanker to get the better of England’s back row in a way he didn’t foresee Brown being able to.

    No pressure there, then.

6. Jonny May

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    David Rogers/Getty Images

    May was robbed of his chance by an early busted nose in Paris so he must be itching to get another opportunity this weekend.

    The Gloucester man is one of the quickest men in the Premiership and could cause havoc if the game breaks up on Saturday.

    He will be desperate to prove he belongs in this England side and needs a big performance to show Stuart Lancaster he deserves to keep the shirt.

    With Christian Wade and Marland Yarde joining Jack Nowell, Chris Ashton and Ben Foden jostling for the wingers’ jerseys, every chance has to be taken.

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