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Andrew Cotter

Parks in a no-win situation (14)

Sportsmen, when being interviewed, fall into three categories.

Firstly there are those who simply have a normal conversation with you, listen to your questions and give an honest and usually entertaining answer. These are dream interviews and rare indeed.

There are also, unfortunately, those who are so wary of saying the wrong thing that they simply decide to let their brains diappear out the door, Homer Simpson style, and conduct the interview in a semi-catatonic state - bland, pointless utterances and a blank, vacant, deadness behind their soulless eyes. There are quite a few of them about.

But there is a third category - those whose facial expressions and body language betrays their true feelings, no matter how much they try and toe the party-line.

I give you Dan Parks.

Parks in the tackle

His selection ahead of Chris Paterson in the number 10 jersey against Portugal was the talk of the team announcement in St Etienne's Town Hall on Friday.

Leaving aside the rights and wrongs of that decision for a moment, he is a player who clearly feels that he is in a no-win situation.

Just when he thought that he had seen off the challenge of Phil Godman or Gordon Ross, he plays second fiddle to Paterson in the warm-up games against Ireland and South Africa.

Following which many people seemed to suggest that Paterson was the answer to Scotland's fly-half prayers and all was right with the world.

So when I put the question to Parks, asking him if he was frustrated to sit on the bench hearing all the praise for Paterson, it was obvious what he really feels, despite a diplomatic answer.

This selection does not mean that Parks is now the number one. The side is close to full strength but while Ross Ford is clearly still the number one hooker he'll sit on the bench cheering on Scott Lawson.

And besides, the possibility that Paterson doesn't play at fly-half in the bigger games throws up more dilemmas.

Can he really be considered a better winger than Sean Lamont or Simon Webster? Or a better full-back than Rory Lamont? If not, then he doesn't play and Scotland are without one of the best kickers in the business.

All are matters for debate, and it's a debate which is clearly irritating Frank Hadden.

“We have nothing to say,” he said.

He added that he was “fed up with all the talking” before a game has been played.

Unfortunately that's what sports fans like to do. And with Scotland's selections there are plenty of things to talk about.

So let the talking continue.

Andrew Cotter is a BBC Sport commentator specialising in rugby union and golf. He is covering Scotland at the World Cup for Radio 5live and you can see the station's full broadcast schedule here.


Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 06:34 PM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • Rory wrote:

Paterson has to play at outside half.
Parks is more workman like, and can come on in the last 10 to 20 minutes if scotland need to play it tight. But Im afraid, he has had plenty of oppo's to make the number 10 shirt his own, but I think Hadden will be prudent to play Paterson there.

  • 2.
  • At 08:57 PM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • Scotland will win wrote:

we need a fly half of the jonny wilkinson or dan carter class other we have no hope of beating the aussies

  • 3.
  • At 10:44 PM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • Arm wrote:

#2 - the aussies? mmmmm

I quite like Parksy - he seems like a good lad. He's not the best fly half in the world, but then neither's Paterson...

It won't matter against Portugal - should be a straightforward victory.

  • 4.
  • At 10:47 PM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • David Stewart wrote:

As an ex flyhalf I can only conclude Dan Parks is XXXX, but why bother Scotland have no chance they have no support (unless tickets are free) the last World Cup had empty stadia - come on where's the William Wallace era?

  • 5.
  • At 11:11 PM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • donald wrote:

Parks has a good tactical kick from hand, both he and Ross know how to boss a game, and get their forwards into attacking positions. Paterson has a bit more acceleration and dancing speed whilst carrying the ball. They are all world class players. Scotland should be proud of them all.

How can any side leave out someone of Paterson's talents? It can only be fear of injury and looking to get him in place for the big games.

  • 7.
  • At 08:55 AM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Muzzer wrote:

I bet Frank has had sleepness nights about no.10 jersey.Parksy has come on a ton under Lineen at the Warriors and has become a very good tactical and goal kicker as well as being a good communicator between forwards and Backline(a Paterson failing).Frank has tried accommadating both by having pats. at no.15 but,not enough in the game as a great line breaker and now a bit on the small side under the high ball.Answer....Pats. is a WORLD CLASS goalkicker and they precious in International Rugby(Mr. Laporte wishes pats. has a French granny after last night!)Even so, Frank will still be having sleepless nights!!

  • 8.
  • At 09:04 AM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Rick wrote:

I think Parks maybe feels a little hard done by, and he's probably got a point. However I think we need Paterson at 10 to add a bit more creativty to the midfield. We've been lacking that spark behind the scrum for some years now and become so easy to defend against that changes need to be made. We've now got some excellent options on the wing and at fullback but have been far too predictable going thru 10,12,13.

  • 9.
  • At 09:39 AM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Muzzer wrote:

I bet Frank has had sleepness nights about no.10 jersey.Parksy has come on a ton under Lineen at the Warriors and has become a very good tactical and goal kicker as well as being a good communicator between forwards and Backline(a Paterson failing).Frank has tried accommadating both by having pats. at no.15 but,not enough in the game as a great line breaker and now a bit on the small side under the high ball.Answer....Pats. is a WORLD CLASS goalkicker and they precious in International Rugby(Mr. Laporte wishes pats. has a French granny after last night!)Even so, Frank will still be having sleepless nights!!

  • 10.
  • At 10:26 AM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • alex thurlow wrote:

I think Hadden should be grateful we have two fairly decent no.10s ready for a world cup - it's been a while! Paterson has to be first choice because of the attacking options he offers - Parks was such a non-threat that defences would drift past him and focus on the centres. As our 12 and 13 options are very limited anyway we need any creative spark we get to lift the midfield and get good ball to our back three in space. I'm with Paterson all the way.

  • 11.
  • At 12:12 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Simon wrote:

I think Parks has a role to play in this squad - his tactical kicking is better than Patersons. But to leave out our no. 1 goal-kicker is a mistake.
I'd like to have see Paterson get an easier game at 10 versus Portugal, get used to the dimensions of the St. Etienne ground so that he's got that experience behind him come the Italy game.
Parks could then have had the Romania game thaat in my opinion will require a slightly tighter game plan.

Not sure Hadden has a proper game plan to accomodate the two players. Slightly worrying.

However, I believe Scotland, led by White can make the quarter-finals and have a decent crack at whoever we meet there.

  • 12.
  • At 04:48 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Pedro wrote:

I'm really anxious to see how Portugal will do against such huge teams in this world cup. We'll probably loose all games (3 are for sure) but qualifying was already a remarkable. Almost all players are amateurs and had to take their vacations (or had to ask license to leave without pay) from work to play.

  • 13.
  • At 04:37 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • John wrote:

Re comment number 4 from David Stewart. Were you at the last world cup? I was and Scotland had a huge support considering we were playing on the other side of the world. The best game I have ever been to was against Fiji, it was like being at a home game with bag pipes and kilts everywhere. The neutral support were going for the underdogs but got in to the celebrations afterwards.

  • 14.
  • At 09:35 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • rusty wrote:

thought dan kicked well tonight.......

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