Scotland spring surprises in selection to take on Springboks
Centre Matt Scott returns after a four-year absence in one of four changes
Scotland have brought back centre Matt Scott after a four-year absence in one of four changes to their team to take on world champions SA in their Test at Murrayfield on Saturday.
Coach Gregor Townsend sprang several selection surprises, including dropping Hamish Watson despite him playing against the Springboks for the British & Irish Lions earlier in 2021.
Scott, 31, will play for the first time since a 34-13 win over Italy in Singapore in 2017, partnering Lion Chris Harris at centre while Townsend picked the speedy 21-year-old Rufus McLean on the wing for his second cap after two tries on debut against Tonga at Murrayfield a fortnight ago.
Nick Haining replaces Watson among the loose forwards in another selection surprise. He will play on the blindside with Jamie Ritchie switching to open side while Watson is on the bench.
Former captain Stuart McInally, who was sick last week, will play at hooker in place of George Turner, who hurt a rib in last Sunday’s 15-13 win over Australia.
“Sunday’s result against Australia was another positive step in the evolution of this team, but there is more to come from this group. And we’ll have to raise our level of performance on Saturday against the world champions,” Townsend said.
“We know what to expect from the Springboks in how they play and the physicality they will bring across the team. We have therefore selected a side that we believe can both meet that challenge and give us the platform to impose our game on the opposition. It should be a full-blooded contest and will require an intensity and focus across our 23-man squad for the full 80 minutes,” the Scotland coach added.
Scotland squad: Stuart Hogg (capt), Rufus McLean, Chris Harris, Matt Scott, Duhan van der Merwe, Finn Russell, Ali Price, Matt Fagerson, Jamie Ritchie, Nick Haining, Grant Gilchrist, Sam Skinner, Zander Fagerson, Stuart McInally, Pierre Schoeman. Replacements: Ewan Ashman, Jamie Bhatti, Oli Kebble, Jamie Hodgson, Hamish Watson, George Horne, Adam Hastings, Blair Kinghorn.
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