Schoeman to make Scotland debut
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Scotland’s opening match of the 2021 Nations Series will be marked with a number of notable firsts as Gregor Townsend names the team to face Tonga at BT Murrayfield on Saturday.
Scotland will be represented by Co-Captains for the first time as Glasgow Warriors and British & Irish Lion Ali Price and Edinburgh Rugby’s Jamie Ritchie both lead the team.
The game will also see Scotland field four uncapped players in the starting XV, two in the backs and two in the forwards.
A further four debutants are in line for caps off the bench, which has a 6-2 forwards split.
Edinburgh flyer Darcy Graham starts at fullback and is joined in the back three by Glasgow duo Kyle Steyn, who will add to his single cap won against France in the last match at BT Murrayfield played in front of crowds in March 2020, and Rufus McLean who will make his first Scotland start.
Joining McLean on Scotland debut will be clubmate Sione Tuipulotu who lines up with fellow Glasgow Warrior Sam Johnson as the centre partnership.
Co-Captain and Lions scrumhalf Ali Price teams up with Edinburgh’s Blair Kinghorn at flyhalf to form a brand new halfback pairing.
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) October 27, 2021
In the pack fellow British & Irish Lions Zander Fagerson starts at tighthead prop with Hamish Watson at openside flank, as they feature for Scotland for the first time since the South Africa tour.
Edinburgh Rugby’s Jamie Ritchie, also named as Co-Captain, packs down on the blindside of the scrum which is anchored by Glasgow Warriors’ Matt Fagerson at number eight.
Youth and experience combine in the second row which sees Rob Harley earn his 23rd cap for Scotland and joined by Edinburgh lock Jamie Hodgson, who will win his first cap.
Up front George Turner starts at hooker with Fagerson and with a debutant on the loose-head side in Edinburgh Rugby’s Pierre Schoeman.
Edinburgh Rugby provide forward replacements on debut in the form of lock Marshall Sykes and back-row Luke Crosbie.
Glasgow Warriors half-back partners Jamie Dobie and Ross Thompson are the uncapped backs.
Former Scotland Captain Stuart McInally is available off the bench alongside Glasgow props Jamie Bhatti and Oli Kebble in the front row, with backrow forward Nick Haining of Edinburgh completing the matchday squad
Scotland Head Coach Gregor Townsend said: “As a playing and coaching group we are looking forward to returning to international rugby over the coming four weeks in the Autumn Nations Series.
“This week has been our first opportunity since the Six Nations to come together as a team, and our goal is to become a better team over the next month. Saturday will also be a huge occasion for a number of players in our squad who have the honour of playing for their country for the first time.”
Scotland: 15 Darcy Graham, 14 Kyle Steyn, 13 Sione Tuipulotu, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Rufus McLean, 10 Blair Kinghorn, 9 Ali Price, 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Rob Harley, 4 Jamie Hodgson, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 George Turner, 1 Pierre Schoeman
Replacements: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 Jamie Bhatti, 18 Oli Kebble, 19 Marshall Sykes, 20 Luke Crosbie, 21 Nick Haining, 22 Jamie Dobie, 23 Ross Thompson
Date: Saturday, October 30
Venue: BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Kick-off: 14.30 (13.30 GMT; 02.30 Sunday, October 31 Tonga time)
Referee: Nic Berry (RA)
Assistant Referees: Damon Murphy (RA) & Angus Gardner (RA)
TMO: Brett Cronan (RA)