Experience returns to Scotland fold
Head Coach Gregor Townsend today welcomed several experienced Scotland players back into the starting line-up for this Saturday’s opening Autumn Test match against Wales at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff (3 November, kick-off 2.45pm) – live on BBC.
Taking place outside World Rugby’s designated international window, the sides (made up wholly of home-based players) will contest the ‘Doddie Weir Cup’ as they honour the former Scotland and British & Irish Lions player diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease and support his inspiring work to raise funds for MND research.
This week the Welsh Rugby Union and Scottish Rugby committed to donating a joint six-figure sum from the proceeds of the game, with the associated visibility for the fight against Motor Neurone Disease also providing an invaluable contribution.
Townsend said: "Doddie’s a great man who’s been inspirational in his fight against MND and it’s fantastic that we’re able to pay tribute to him and his achievements with this match.
"This Saturday the best way we, as a team, can pay tribute to him will be through our performance, delivering one in keeping with the occasion and that puts us in a position to make Doddie proud.
"There is an extra incentive that we are playing for a trophy in the shape of the Doddie Weir Cup.”
Four starters remain from Summer Test triumph...
Just four players return to Scotland’s starting line-up from the Summer Test win over Argentina (44-15) in Resistencia in June.
Hooker Stuart McInally [pictured right] returns as captain alongside fellow Edinburgh front-row Allan Dell, while young backs Adam Hastings (22) and Blair Kinghorn (21) feature again in the back division, at stand-off and full-back.
Thereafter the squad features the return of a number of seasoned campaigners who missed the Argentina win either through injury or a summer of scheduled rest.
In the backs the youthful exuberance of Hastings and Kinghorn is complemented by an experienced Glasgow Warriors quintet: wingers Tommy Seymour and Lee Jones, centres Huw Jones and Alex Dunbar, and scrum-half Ali Price.
In the pack, tour-rested quartet Jonny Gray (lock) [pictured left], Willem Nel (prop), Hamish Watson and Ryan Wilson (back-row) return to the pack, alongside lock Ben Toolis and back-row Jamie Ritchie.
Edinburgh back Darcy Graham earns his first appearance in a Scotland match-day 23 and could make his debut if called upon from the bench.
Townsend added: “We’ve had a productive two weeks, both in St Andrews and Edinburgh, and the players have worked hard to put our game into place.
”As always we expect a very tough Test match against Wales in Cardiff – a contest that will be physically and technically demanding in a noisy arena. It’s a challenge we look forward to facing.”
The Wales match will provide Test-level build-up for Scotland’s home 2018 Autumn Tests at BT Murrayfield, with sold-out crowds confirmed for the opening Tests against Fiji (Saturday 10 November) and South Africa (17 November), with the final Test against Argentina on Saturday 24 November close behind
Scotland team to play Wales at the Principality Stadium
Saturday 3 November (kick-off 2.45pm) – live on BBC
15. Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh) – 5 caps
14. Tommy Seymour VICE CAPTAIN (Glasgow Warriors) – 43 caps
13. Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors) – 16 caps
12. Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors) – 28 caps
11. Lee Jones (Glasgow Warriors) – 9 caps
10. Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors) – 3 caps
9. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) – 17 caps
1. Allan Dell (Edinburgh) – 13 caps
2. Stuart McInally CAPTAIN (Edinburgh) – 18 caps
3. Willem Nel (Edinburgh) – 22 caps
4. Ben Toolis (Edinburgh) – 12 caps
5. Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors) – 43 caps
6. Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh) – 2 caps
7. Hamish Watson (Edinburgh) – 20 caps
8. Ryan Wilson VICE CAPTAIN (Glasgow Warriors) – 37 caps
16. Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) – 34 caps
17. Alex Allan (Glasgow Warriors) – 4 caps
18. Simon Berghan (Edinburgh) – 10 caps
19. Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh) – 25 caps
20. Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) – 1 cap
21. George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) – 2 caps
22. Pete Horne (Glasgow Warriors) – 35 caps
23. Darcy Graham (Edinburgh) – uncapped