Four players remain from the team that started and secured a second win of head coach Vern Cotter’s international career against Canada last week, when Scotland face Argentina in Cordoba on Friday.
One of the quartet, the 23-year-old Edinburgh Rugby lock Grant Gilchrist, will captain the side, thus becoming the youngest Scotland captain since Gregor Townsend skippered the men in blue against Australia 18 years ago.
Townsend, who went on to win 82 caps for his country was 23 years, 197 days when he led against the Wallabies in 1996. Gilchrist, who has captaincy experience from Scotland age-grade sides, in addition to taking on the leadership mantle from Greig Laidlaw during Edinburgh Rugby matches this season, will be 23 years, 315 days on Friday.
“It’s a huge honour, one I’m looking forward to,” declared Gilchrist in an interview with www.scottishrugby.org. “I hope that I can fulfil what it is to be Scotland captain. For me it’s a boyhood dream. Of course there’s massive responsibility, not just to this team, but to the entire country and Scotland fans throughout the world, but I’m really excited by it.”
Gilchrist, in all probability the first former pupil of Craigbank Primary School in the Clackmannanshire village of Sauchie and Lornshill Academy in Alloa, to captain Scotland – and both the Alloa and Stirling County clubs have played a major part in his development – was hailed for the qualities he brings.
Cotter said: “He has impressed me with his leadership qualities. He’s already calling the lineouts and he’s been part of this tour right from the outset, which is important for continuity from the first two games.
“He leads by example. Some captains are more at ease talking and organising whereas Gilcho is more adept at just getting on with it.”
Gilchrist is joined by Stuart Hogg, Sean Maitland and Peter Horne from the starting XV against Canada last week.
It was inevitable that there would be wholesale changes for the Pumas contest given the arrival of 13 new players from the UK this week.
Cotter explained: “What we’ve seen from previous games on the tour has been a desire to play. Mistakes have crept into our game because we haven’t spent much time together. I’ve been pleased with the energy and desire to score tries but not happy with the execution.
“I’ve shown the (video) clips to the new players and I’m looking to them to bring that same energy and desire to carry the ball and secure opportunities and hopefully fresh legs can help. I need to see what players are doing. We have to show teeth. We have to be able to attack from anywhere and we have to be able to dictate the pace and tempo of games. It’s a challenge.”
In the latest selection – scrum-half Grayson Hart, lock Jonny Gray and back-row forward Kieran Low – will make their first start for Scotland.
At the other end of the experience spectrum, British Lion Ross Ford will become Scotland’s most-capped hooker, over-taking fellow Lion and former captain Gordon Bulloch.
Cotter noted: “That’s a great achievement for Fordy. I’d like to think he could do another 70 odd games as well.”
Scotland have won their last three Tests on Argentine soil, once in 2008 and twice in 2010, and the Pumas, with the Rugby Championship on the horizon, have lost to Ireland in two matches over the past fortnight.
Cotter added: “They have to prepare for their Four Nations and they were much better in their second game against Ireland than in their first and they’ll be looking for that same progression into the game against us.
“They’ve had Graham Henry involved with them and you can see a bit more width and variety in their attacking game. We’re in for a very tough Test match.”
Scotland team (sponsor RBS) to play Argentina in Cordoba on Friday 20 June, kick-off 4.20pm local time (8.20pm UK – live on Sky Sports)
15 Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors) 22 caps, 5 tries, 1 penalty, 28 points
14 Sean Maitland (Glasgow Warriors) 11 caps, 1 try, 5 points
13 Nick De Luca (Biarritz) 41 caps, 1 try, 5 points
12 Peter Horne (Glasgow Warriors) 3 caps
11 Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors) 8 caps, 3 tries, 15 points
10 Duncan Weir (Glasgow Warriors) 13 caps, 1 try, 3 conversions, 1 penalty, 1 drop-goal, 17 points
9 Grayson Hart (Edinburgh Rugby) 1 cap
1 Alasdair Dickinson (Edinburgh Rugby) 34 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
2 Ross Ford (Edinburgh Rugby) 75 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
3 Geoff Cross (London Irish) 30 caps, 1 try, 5 points
4 Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors) 3 caps
5 Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby) 6 caps, 1 try, 5 points CAPTAIN
6 Robert Harley (Glasgow Warriors) 4 caps, 1 try, 5 points
7 Blair Cowan (London Irish) 2 caps
8 Kieran Low (London Irish) 3 caps
16 Pat MacArthur (Glasgow Warriors) 5 caps
17 Gordon Reid (Glasgow Warriors) 2 caps
18 Jon Welsh (Glasgow Warriors) 2 caps
19 Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors) 7 caps
20 Chris Fusaro (Glasgow Warriors) 2 caps
21 Henry Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors) 10 caps, 1 try, 5 points
22 Tom Heathcote (Edinburgh Rugby) 3 caps
23 Dougie Fife (Edinburgh Rugby) 1 cap
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland). Assistant referees: Pascal Gauzere (France) and Lourens Van Der Merwe (South Africa). TMO: Deon van Bloomestein (South Africa).