Six changes as Scots prepare to face South Africa
Gregor Townsend is looking for his Scotland team to build on the win over Fiji when South Africa visit Murrayfield (pic: SNS Group)
Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has made six personnel changes to his side for the autumn international against South Africa on Saturday.
Glasgow Warriors centre Huw Jones returns to the back division and London Irish prop Gordon Reid is set for his first involvement in the autumn campaign as the starting loosehead, with the remaining four those rotated or rested after last weekend’s home win over Fiji.
Vice-captain Stuart McInally (hooker) and lock Jonny Gray return from the bench to start once more, while second-row Ben Toolis and back-row Hamish Watson come back into the match-day squad to start.
The final change to the pack is a positional switch for last Saturday’s man-of-the-match winning debutant Sam Skinner, who starts in the blind-side flank position where he finished the Fiji Test having started at lock.
“South Africa have made a lot of improvements over the last three or four months, beating the All Blacks in New Zealand and putting in an 80-minute performance to defeat France in Paris, which underlines their quality,” said Townsend, who is without Matt Fagerson (dead leg).
“Their traditional strength has always been their physicality and this remains a key point of difference for them. We expect them to be confrontational and powerful in their ball carrying, their defence and also at set-piece time. It will be a great challenge for our forward pack in particular.
“South Africa have always had a smart kicking game with an excellent chase but what we’ve seen over the past few months is an ambition to move the ball from counter attack and a push to get their forwards passing the ball more.
“Our defence will have to be strong to nullify this ambitious attacking game plan.”
The Scots last faced the Springboks in the pool rounds of the 2015 world cup, losing 36-14 at St James’ Park in Newcastle.
Kick-off at BT Murrayfield is 5.20pm.
Scotland team: Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors); Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors), Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors), Pete Horne (Glasgow Warriors), Sean Maitland (Saracens), Finn Russell (Racing 92), Greig Laidlaw (Clermont – captain); Gordon Reid (London Irish), Stuart McInally (Edinburgh), Willem Nel (Edinburgh), Ben Toolis (Edinburgh), Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors), Sam Skinner (Exeter Chiefs),Hamish Watson (Edinburgh), Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors).
Replacements: Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors), Allan Dell (Edinburgh), Simon Berghan (Edinburgh), Josh Strauss (Sales Sharks), Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh), Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors), Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors), Chris Harris (Newcastle Falcons).