Scotland change six for Bok clash
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Head coach Gregor Townsend named six personnel changes to the starting Scotland side to face South Africa in this Saturday’s Test match at Murrayfield.
The home side last faced the Springboks in the Pool rounds of World Cup 2015, losing 14-34 at St James’ Park in Newcastle, with the 2010 November Tests the most recent home success on a day where flyhalf Dan Parks kicked all of Scotland’s points to win 21-17.
There are three South African-born players in the matchday 23 in the form of Willem Nel, Allan Dell and Josh Strauss.
The return of Glasgow Warriors centre Huw Jones is the only change to the back division, with Scotland’s pack featuring the remaining five.
London Irish prop Gordon Reid is set for his first involvement in the November campaign as the starting loosehead, with the remaining four those rotated or rested for 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 lock Ben Toolis and loose forward Hamish Watson come back into the matchday 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 blindside flank position where he finished the Fiji Test, having started at lock.
Townsend – assistant coach at the time of the 2010 win – said: “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.
“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.
“We’re looking forward to playing one of the best teams in the world and playing once more in front of a sell-out crowd at Murrayfield.”
Tighthead prop Nel, loose forward Ryan Wilson and wing Tommy Seymour – who scored a hat-trick against Fiji – are the only three players named to start at third consecutive Test match this November.
Seymour joins fullback Start Hogg and wing Sean Maitland – who scored his fourth consecutive try in a Murrayfield Test – in the back-three, at centre Pete Horne is named alongside returning clubmate Jones, while halfbacks Greig Laidlaw and Finn Russell feature once more.
Scrumhalf Ali Price returns to the Scotland squad for the first time since starting against Wales, on the bench.
Loose forward Matt Fagerson has not recovered sufficiently from the dead leg he sustained against Fiji to feature against South Africa.
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Pete Horne, 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw (captain), 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Sam Skinner, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Ben Toolis, 3 Willem Nel, 2 Stuart McInally, 1 Gordon Reid.
Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Josh Strauss, 20 Jamie Ritchie, 21 Ali Price, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Chris Harris.
Date: Saturday, November 17
Venue: Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Kick-off: 17.20 (17.20 GMT; 19.20 SA time)
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant referees: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand), Frank Murphy (Ireland)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)
BREAKING | Six changes to the Scotland team to face South Africa in front of a sell-out crowd at BT Murrayfield this Saturday (17 November, kick-off 5.20pm)
📺 Live on BT Sport & BBC
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) November 14, 2018