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BBC Scotland's Nigel Robson reports
"Despite the distractions, the squad is looking forward to the match"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 28 March, 2000, 16:42 GMT 17:42 UK
Nicol takes Scotland captaincy
John Leslie did not take part in the Scotland training
Andy Nicol has taken over the Scotland captaincy after John Leslie was ruled out of Sunday's Calcutta Cup clash against England at Murrayfield.

Leslie's withdrawal had been widely anticipated after he missed Newcastle's Premiership game with Saracens at the weekend with an ankle injury.

But hooker Gordon Bulloch's unavailability is a double blow for the Scots, after prop Dave Hilton was deemed ineligible by the International Rugby Board earlier in the week.

Andy Nicol
Andy Nicol: Defended team mate
Bulloch could have expected to start the game, after apparently recovering from a shoulder injury he suffered in the 44-20 defeat by Ireland in Dublin.

The Glasgow Caledonians man came off the bench to feature against Wales a fortnight ago, but aggravated the problem in his Super Districts' Tri Series meeting with Edinburgh Reivers in Inverness on Sunday.

Ironically, he would also have been a contender to skipper the side in Leslie's absence.

Glasgow Caledonians scrum-half Nicol, who has been a team-mate of Hilton's for both club and country for the past six years, launched a withering attack on critics of the prop, who has become embroiled in the "grannygate" scandal.

Huge asset

He said: "The way David has been portrayed is nothing short of appalling.

"This was not a premeditated attempt by someone to manipulate the system.

"I hope what has happened will not drive him out of Scottish rugby because he is a huge asset."

Edinburgh Reivers' centre Graham Shiel, who was set to skipper the A team at Goldenacre on Saturday, has been drafted into the main squad to replace Leslie, while Bulloch's Reds colleague, Gavin Scott, covers Steve Brotherstone at hooker.

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