Scotland have made two changes from their starting XV and a further four alterations to their bench for Saturday’s EMC Test against South Africa at Murrayfield. Euan Murray, the 32-year-old tighthead prop who was man of the match when the nations clashed at Murrayfield in 2008, is restored at tight-head prop having missed the New Zealand game due to his religious observance, with Geoff Cross moving to the bench.
Elsewhere in the pack, Edinburgh Rugby’s David Denton, who replaced the injured Ross Rennie against New Zealand, retains his berth in the back-row with captain Kelly Brown confirmed at openside.
Almost 56,000 tickets have been sold for Saturday’s EMC Test, meaning Scotland are set to smash box-office attendance records for Test matches at this time of year by the time they play Tonga in Aberdeen.
On the bench, Dougie Hall, whose most recent cap was in the Rugby World Cup pool match against Argentina in Wellington last year, is preferred to Scott Lawson; and Cross takes the place of his Edinburgh colleague Allan Jacobsen, who is unavailable for personal reasons.
The experienced John Barclay returns to the match-day squad and there’s a first involvement in a Scotland 23 for Barclay’s Glasgow Warriors’ team-mate, the uncapped 26-year-old Peter Murchie who is nominated instead of Max Evans.
Scotland head coach Andy Robinson said: “We know we’re in for a bruising battle against South Africa this weekend and we will be primed for that physical confrontation.
“But we also have to be smart in how we approach this game and do our utmost to ensure we get on the front foot and get the result that will move us into the top eight in the IRB world rankings ahead of next month’s 2015 Rugby World Cup draw.
“I was pleased with Euan’s contribution both at scrummage and in open play during the summer tour, while David Denton’s aggressive carrying is something that really gets the crowd going.
“Dougie Hall has had a good season for Glasgow and I know that John Barclay has been one of our most consistent and reliable back-row forwards since he made his debut five years ago.
“Peter Murchie is another who has had a fine start to the season with Glasgow and his desire to dominate in aerial combat has been a factor in selection.”
Scotland team (sponsor RBS) to play South Africa in the EMC Test at Murrayfield on Saturday 17 November (kick-off 2.30pm)
15 Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors) 8 caps, 1 try, 5 points
14 Sean Lamont (Glasgow Warriors) 69 caps, 8 tries, 40 points
13 Nick De Luca (Edinburgh Rugby) 36 caps, 1 try, 5 points
12 Matt Scott (Edinburgh Rugby) 5 caps
11 Tim Visser (Edinburgh Rugby) 3 caps, 4 tries 20 points
10 Greig Laidlaw (Edinburgh Rugby) 11 caps, 2 tries, 10 conversions, 16 penalties, 78 points
9 Mike Blair (Brive) 84 caps, 7 tries, 35 points
1 Ryan Grant (Glasgow Warriors) 4 caps
2 Ross Ford (Edinburgh Rugby) 62 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
3 Euan Murray (Worcester Warriors) 47 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
4 Richie Gray (Sale Sharks) 25 caps, 1 try, 5 points
5 Jim Hamilton (Gloucester) 40 caps, 1 try, 5 points
6 Alasdair Strokosch (Perpignan) 29 caps, 1 try, 5 points
7 Kelly Brown (Saracens) CAPTAIN, 50 caps, 4 tries, 20 points
8 David Denton (Edinburgh Rugby) 7 caps
16 Dougie Hall (Glasgow Warriors) 37 caps, 1 try, 5 points
17 Kyle Traynor (Bristol Rugby) 3 caps
18 Geoff Cross (Edinburgh Rugby) 15 caps, 1 try, 5 points
19 Alastair Kellock (Glasgow Warriors) 45 caps, 1 try, 5 points
20 John Barclay (Glasgow Warriors) 39 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
21 Henry Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors) 1 cap
22 Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow Warriors) 14 caps, 2 conversions, 2 penalties, 2 drop-goals, 16 points
23 Peter Murchie (Glasgow Warriors) uncapped
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland). Assistant referees: John Lacey (Ireland) and Cristophe Berdos (France). Television Match Official: Eric Gauzins (France)
You can still buy tickets for the EMC Tests against South Africa at Murrayfield this Saturday and against Tonga at Pittodrie Stadium in Aberdeen on Saturday 24 November (kick-off 3pm).
Tickets for both remaining matches can be bought now online at www.scottishrugby.org; via the 24-hour credit card hotline 0844 335 3933 or in person from the Scottish Rugby ticket centre at Murrayfield Stadium which is open 9am-5pm, Mondays to Fridays.
Scotland v South Africa, Saturday 17 November, Murrayfield, kick-off 2.30pm
Adults: £20, £30, £50
Under-18s and students: £10, £15 and £25
Scotland v Tonga, Saturday 24 November, Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen, kick-off 3pm
Adults: £15, £25 and £40
Under-18s and students: £7.50, £12.50 and £20
Group offer for schools and all clubs – Eight under-18s with two adults can attend an EMC Test for £40.
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