Scotland revamp pack for Argentina
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Head Coach Gregor Townsend has made nine changes to the starting Scotland line-up for the final match in the 2018 November Test series against Argentina at BT Murrayfield.
The game is on course for a sell-out, generating the 11th consecutive Scotland match to be played to a 67 144 capacity at BT Murrayfield.
It was only five months ago the two teams last met as part of the 2018 June Tour which saw the visitors to Argentina put in an impressive performance to win by a record score against the Pumas 44-15 in Resistencia.
A contrast to the last-minute win when Argentina last visited Scotland back in the autumn of 2016 when the home side recorded a 19-16 victory with a late Greig Laidlaw penalty.
The Scottish pack which fronted up so well against the Springboks last weekend sees six changes, including a new starting front row of prop Allan Dell, hooker Fraser Brown and prop Simon Berghan, which finished the match against South Africa.
Lock Jonny Gray retains his starting place in the second row and is joined by Grant Gilchrist in place of Ben Toolis.
Jamie Ritchie’s recent impressive performances see him come back into the XV at blindside flank, with Sam Skinner, who played six last Saturday, moving to the bench after featuring in the last two matches.
Josh Strauss starts his first match since the 2017 summer tour at number eight.
In the back division there are three changes, two in personnel and one positional, with captain Greig Laidlaw continuing at scrumhalf.
Finn Russell moves to inside centre as Adam Hastings starts at flyhalf to continue an exciting combination which has finished the last two November Tests versus Fiji and South Africa respectively.
Huw Jones retains his place at outside-centre with Blair Kinghorn starting his first match of the Test Series at wing. Stuart Hogg has recovered from his ankle knock to stay at fullback and Sean Maitland again plays on the wing.
Head Coach Gregor Townsend said: “While it was a great effort from the players to win in Argentina last summer, we are under no illusions as how different a prospect their team will be on Saturday.
“Under Mario Ledesma, Argentina delivered some outstanding performances and they were hugely impressive in their victories over South Africa and Australia in the recent Rugby Championship. I’m sure that they will throw everything at us to end their international season on a high note.
“With four Test matches in succession, we’ve been conscious of rotating the squad to enable as many players as possible to be in the best physical condition for each contest. We are expecting those selected this weekend to bring energy and huge effort to the game and seize the opportunity to perform at their best level against a very good team. It will be another huge challenge, not only for our forward pack but also for our defence – as Argentina play ambitious, skilful and effective attacking rugby,”
Last week’s starting front row players Stuart McInally and WP Nel move to the bench and are joined by Glasgow Warriors prop Alex Allan.
Ryan Wilson comes onto the bench after featuring in all three November Tests, as does centre Alex Dunbar and scrum-half George Horne.
Sale Sharks wing Byron McGuigan joins the matchday 23 for the first time this series to complete the bench.
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Finn Russell, 11 Blair Kinghorn, 10 Adam Hastings, 9 Greig Laidlaw (Captain), 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Simon Berghan, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Allan Dell.
Replacements: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 Alex Allan, 18 Willem Nel
19 Sam Skinner, 20 Ryan Wilson, 21 George Horne, 22 Alex Dunbar, 23 Byron McGuigan.
Date: Saturday, November 24
Venue: BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Kick-off: 14.30 (14.30 GMT, 13.30 ART)
Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Dan Jones (Wales)
TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland)