By Gary Heatly
Props may not be the players who grab the headlines, but they are so key to giving their side a platform to go out and win games.
As a result, Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend is delighted that both Allan Dell and WP Nel are back and firing after lengthy injury issues for both.
The Edinburgh duo will be winning their 14th and 23rd caps respectively in the Principality Stadium on Saturday when the Scots take on Wales for the Doddie Weir Cup.
Two bulging discs in his back suffered in the summer of 2017 left loosehead Dell, 26, unable to tie his shoe laces at times and only now does he feel like he is getting back to his best.
And during 2016/17 and 2017/18 tighthead Nel, 32, has had to deal with neck, arm and knee injuries with the former causing real concern and, at one point, leaving his career in the balance.
“I have been impressed by their recovery and I am relieved, delighted to have them available, we think very highly of both Allan and WP,” the head coach said.
“Allan just hasn’t had the breaks, when he’s played for Scotland he’s done very well. Now he’s been able to get some really good games in for Edinburgh. I thought he was excellent in Montpellier against a huge pack, in the scrums they pushed Montpellier back.
“He has a skillset which lends itself to aspects away from the scrummaging game with his athleticism. In Argentina he was the first to support George Horne after Adam Hastings’ chip and he’s got pace.
“WP has been enjoying his rugby, even making a break in the recent Toulon game like it was five years ago. He’s just happy to be able to train regularly without pain and play regularly. He’s a tough man.
“On Tuesday when it was meant to be no tackling, he was tackling everybody, he loves that part of it. He’s in great shape.”
Meanwhile, Townsend has laid down the gauntlet to stand-off Adam Hastings ahead of this Saturday’s match, telling him not just to push Finn Russell for the number 10 jersey going forward, but to try and make the starting spot his own.
With the Doddie Weir Cup clash falling out with the international window, the likes of Racing 92 playmaker Russell are unavailable to the head coach.
As a result the 23 man squad that will be involved at the weekend features 13 Glasgow Warriors and 10 Edinburgh Rugby men.
All will be looking to make an impact before the exiles return to the fold for the upcoming home clashes with Fiji, South Africa and Argentina - with 22-year-old Hastings in the spotlight given the pivotal position he plays.
Many feel he is just borrowing the jersey from Russell - the 26-year-old with 37 caps to his name - but after he named his team on Wednesday Townsend hinted that it is more of a straight battle for the spot.
And he even alluded to the fact that one day they could play in the same Scotland side with one of them shifting to outside centre.
“It's very important that Adam pushes Finn,” the head coach said.
“It's not so much about Adam pushing Finn, it's about Adam looking to get that number 10 jersey for himself.
“He's now going to have played [a number of] internationals [against USA, Argentina and now Wales] in a row and we'll now be looking for a response from Finn.
“We've seen that already from Finn this year. He's got a big game this weekend against Montpellier, but it's a genuine competition for that jersey.
“Adam has been one of the form players in the Guinness PRO14 this year and has really grabbed his opportunity for Glasgow.
“I now want to see more of the same of what he has been showing for Glasgow - and certainly more of the same as what he showed in his last international against Argentina.
“What he’s done very well this year is work hard off the ball. He’s got an outstanding engine and that means he gets more involvements in the game and he’s playing with confidence.
“His running game has come through this year, probably more than he or us expected, and his game management is always going to be something he will get better and better at the more he plays in that position.
“His temperament, his confidence, they are what you want in a stand-off - looking to try things, looking to make things happen, being very positive.
“His experience in Argentina and how he played has got to be in his muscle memory and realising that the next time he gets to play an international level he can do similar things and they will work out ok.
“This is a big challenge this week; it is Wales, it is away and they are huge favourites I would imagine, but if he plays really well that does make it a much more competitive position [going forward].”
Scotland squad: to play Wales at the Principality Stadium
15. Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh) – 5 caps
14. Tommy Seymour V-C (Glasgow Warriors) – 43 caps
13. Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors) – 16 caps
12. Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors) – 28 caps
11. Lee Jones (Glasgow Warriors) – 9 caps
10. Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors) – 3 caps
9. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) – 17 caps
1. Allan Dell (Edinburgh) – 13 caps
2. Stuart McInally C (Edinburgh) – 18 caps
3. Willem Nel (Edinburgh) – 22 caps
4. Ben Toolis (Edinburgh) – 12 caps
5. Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors) – 43 caps
6. Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh) – 2 caps
7. Hamish Watson (Edinburgh) – 20 caps
8. Ryan Wilson VC (Glasgow Warriors) – 37 caps
16. Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) – 34 caps
17. Alex Allan (Glasgow Warriors) – 4 caps
18. Simon Berghan (Edinburgh) – 10 caps
19. Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh) – 25 caps
20. Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) – 1 cap
21. George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) – 2 caps
22. Pete Horne (Glasgow Warriors) – 35 caps
23. Darcy Graham (Edinburgh) – uncapped
Wales play Scotland for the Doddie Weir Cup is on Saturday, November 3rd at 2.45pm