Scotland have made four changes to their pack and finalized their back division for Saturday’s viagogo Autumn Test against Australia, having declared winger Tommy Seymour fit to play and take his spot in the starting line up.
Glasgow Warriors team-mates prop Ryan Grant returns to the starting line-up for Alasdair Dickinson while the definitive alterations at this stage are completed by Johnnie Beattie and Kelly Brown taking back-row berths, with Brown restored to the captaincy, instead of Alasdair Strokosch and John Barclay and finally as announced today Grant Gilchrist is starting in the place of injured Tim Swinson who was initially named at number four after Richie Gray filled this jumper against the Springboks.
Changes are made to the bench too, where the uncapped 22-year-old Kieran Low is joined by Pat MacArthur, Dickinson and Euan Murray.
The match is a landmark for lock Jim Hamilton who will become the 35th Scot to win 50 or more caps for his country. One of Hamilton’s predecessors in that distinguished club, Sean Lamont, would equal Gregor Townsend as the third most-capped Scotland back should he win his 82nd cap on Saturday.
At the other end of the scale, the uncapped 20-year-old former Scotland age-grade captain, Glasgow Warriors’ Mark Bennett, could figure in a Scotland match-day 23 for the first time.
Beattie leapfrogs dad
And in a further statistical nicety Johnnie Beattie will overtake his dad, John, when he wins his 26th cap, Beattie senior having won 25.
Scotland head coach Scott Johnson said: “A six day turn-around from one Test match to another is always a challenge and it’s one we’ll face in our opening two games of the 2014 RBS 6 Nations Championship too. Tommy (Seymour) took a bang on the leg against South Africa at the weekend so we’re looking to give him every opportunity to prove his fitness. We’ll finalise our starting back division and bench once we have an update there.”
“We’re clear in what we’re trying to do at the moment which is look at different combinations with a view to intensifying the competition for places in the team. That mantra doesn’t change, so we adhere to the plan, while dealing with injuries and while always being true to the jersey.
“Australia played some quality rugby against Ireland last weekend and we’re very much looking forward to renewing rivalry with them on Saturday.”
Scotland team to play Australia at Murrayfield on Saturday 23 November
15 Sean Maitland (Glasgow Warriors), 14 Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors), 13 Nick De Luca (Edinburgh Rugby), 12 Duncan Taylor(Saracens), 11 Sean Lamont (Glasgow Warriors), 10 Duncan Weir (Glasgow Warriors) 9 Greig Laidlaw (Edinburgh Rugby)
1 Ryan Grant (Glasgow Warriors) 2 Ross Ford (Edinburgh Rugby), 3 Moray Low (Glasgow Warriors), 4 Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby), 5 Jim Hamilton (Montpellier), 6 Johnnie Beattie (Montpellier), 7 Kelly Brown (Saracens) CAPTAIN, 8 David Denton (Edinburgh Rugby)
Replacements: 16 Pat MacArthur (Glasgow Warriors), 17 Alasdair Dickinson (Edinburgh Rugby), 18 Euan Murray (Worcester Warriors), 19 Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors), 20 Kieran Low (London Irish), 21 Chris Cusiter (Glasgow Warriors), 22 Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow Warriors), 23 Max Evans (Castres Olympique)
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa).
Assistant Referees: Pascal Gauzere (France) and Francisco Pastrana (Argentina).
TMO: Geoff Warren (England)
Scotland press conference following Sunday’s game against Springboks