Scotland make six changes for Autumn Nations Cup visit to Dublin
Edinburgh stand-off Jaco van de Walt will make his Scotland debut as one of six changes to the starting team to face Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday 5 December (kick-off 2:15pm) - live on Amazon Prime Video.
Captain Stuart Hogg is in line to win his 80th Scotland cap, moving him into 7th position on the list of Scotland male internationalists immediately behind Gregor Townsend in 6th on 82 appearances and current assistant coach, Mike Blair 5th, who finished his Scotland career with 85 caps.
Duncan Taylor has been selected at inside centre and the Saracen will makes his first Scotland start since the defeat of Russia at Rugby World Cup 2019 in the 2020 Autumn Nations Cup tie to determine which team finishes in third and fourth positions respectively.
Taylor partners Chris Harris in the centres, who along with Glasgow Warriors’ scrum-half Ali Price and lock Scott Cummings, is one of three Scotland players to have started every match in the 2020 autumn campaign.
Edinburgh winger Darcy Graham returns to the side and lines up with fellow Edinburgh flyer Duhan van de Merwe to complete the back line with full-back Stuart Hogg.
The core of the pack who faced France in the previous ANC round are retained with Fraser Brown at hooker, lock pairing Scott Cummings and Jonny Gray and number 8 Matt Fagerson all in the starting line up.
Edinburgh loosehead prop Rory Sutherland returns to front row duties, packing down with tighthead Zander Fagerson alongside Brown.
The back row sees a positional change and a new combination with Edinburgh flanker Jamie Ritchie moving to the openside and Scarlets’ Blade Thomson on the blindside at number 6.
Glasgow back Huw Jones and London Irish flanker Blair Cowan are set to make their first appearances of the autumn campaign from the bench.
Winger Sean Maitland will win his 50th cap should he be called upon to feature.
Three new front row replacements are named from the France fixture with Glasgow Warrior Oli Kebble joining up with Edinburgh pair hooker Stuart McInally and tighthead WP Nel.
Exeter players Sam Skinner and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne complete the matchday 23.
Head Coach Gregor Townsend said: “We’ve been together for the past two months and from a coaching perspective it has been a real joy seeing the group come together and work so hard to improve both individually and collectively. We are looking forward to facing Ireland in what will be an opportunity to continue our progress away from home once again.
“We have been impressed with Jaco over the time he has trained with us and we’re excited to see him take the next step into international test match rugby. It will be a tough challenge over in Ireland, given the quality of our opposition and how they will be looking to end 2020 on a positive note.
“Being able to bring back Rory Sutherland after his recent injury is a real boost, and it’s great to involve Blair and Huw for the first time this season. If they get on the field, 39 players will have had opportunities to play over the past 5 games, which underlines the current player depth throughout Scottish rugby and shows the competition there is for places now in this Scotland team.”
Scotland team to play Ireland at Aviva Stadium
Saturday 5 December (kick-off 2.15pm) – live on Amazon Prime Video
15. Stuart Hogg CAPTAIN (Exeter Chiefs) – 79 caps
14. Darcy Graham (Edinburgh) – 14 caps
13. Chris Harris (Gloucester) – 22 caps
12. Duncan Taylor (Saracens) – 27 caps
11. Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh) – 4 caps
10. Jaco van der Walt (Edinburgh) – 0 caps
9. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) – 36 caps
1. Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh) – 10 caps
2. Fraser Brown VICE CAPTAIN (Glasgow Warriors) – 53 caps
3. Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) – 33 caps
4. Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors) – 16 caps
5. Jonny Gray (Exeter Chiefs) – 60 caps
6. Blade Thomson (Scarlets) – 8 caps
7. Jamie Ritchie VICE CAPTAIN (Edinburgh) – 22 caps
8. Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) – 8 caps
16. Stuart McInally (Edinburgh) – 40 caps
17. Oli Kebble (Glasgow Warriors) – 4 caps
18. Willem Nel (Edinburgh) – 39 caps
19. Sam Skinner (Exeter Chiefs) – 9 caps
20. Blair Cowan (London Irish) – 17 caps
21. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (Exeter Chiefs) – 13 caps
22. Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors) – 25 caps
23. Sean Maitland (Saracens) – 49 caps