Friday night sees the return of international rugby, after the experimentation of November’s Autumn Tests – Scotland ‘A’ are in action at Scotstoun, where the Auld Enemy lie in wait.
The Scots, led by Jonny Gray from the second row, have an abundance of experience in their ranks with Ally Hogg, recalled following a four-year absence from the dark blue jersey, the likely number eight.
Rob Harley and Jon Welsh are also regulars in the senior squad, and the latter can think himself extremely unlucky not to be making the trip to Dublin this weekend.
Head coach Shade Munro also has a decision to make at stand-off, where the out-of-favour Tom Heathcote could find himself behind a man in tremendous form.
Greig Tonks’ form in Edinburgh’s pivot position, particularly in Heineken Cup wins over Gloucester and Perpignan, has been outstanding and Munro may give the former Northampton Saint a go there against the England Saxons, as Scott Johnson is keen to see him tested at a higher level.
Whoever dons the number 10 shirt will likely face new Leicester Tigers recruit, Freddie Burns, the 23-year old no doubt keen to impress following his dip in form with Gloucester.
Away from that battle, club colleagues Dougie Fife and Jack Cuthbert will get the chance to prove their international worth in the back-three, the duo capping a fine start to the season with their call-ups.
The visitors travel to Scotstoun knowing they must improve on their recent record against Scotland ‘A’, and will want to avoid a repeat of the 35-0 drubbing dished out two years ago at Netherdale, at all costs.
Scotland, though, will take heart from those performances, and particularly in the way they saw off a massive English pack in Newcastle in last year’s clash. Tonks played a pivotal role in that game too in abysmal conditions.
The Saxons go into Friday night’s match having lost to Ireland Wolfhounds last weekend, and are likely to be robbed of try-scorer Anthony Watson for the game at Scotstoun.
Bath flyer Watson is widely tipped to be among Stuart Lancaster’s replacements for the Six Nations opener with France in Paris.
That being said, they do possess a British Lion in their ranks – 2009 tourist Ugo Monye back on the England radar as part of a youthful Saxons set-up.
The game will be streamed on Scottish Rugby’s YouTube channel and will be the first of four live matches designed to showcase the best of Scotland and England’s emerging rugby talent.
Also to be featured live on the channel will be two Scotland under-20 matches against England (Friday 7 February, 7.30pm) and France (Friday 7 March, 7.30pm) from Netherdale and the women’s international between Scotland and England (Sunday 9 February, 2pm) from Aberdeen.
The matches will be brought to fans through an innovative new partnership between Scottish Rugby, RBS, the RFU and QuipuTV, who will film the games.
Coverage of the A game will be presented by Jim Mason and the commentary team will include Paul Mitchell and Scottish internationalist Al Kellock.
It makes for a mouth-watering clash, and what better way to kick off an enthralling period of international rugby?
Probable Scotland ‘A’: 15 Jack Cuthbert, 14 Dougie Fife, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Richie Vernon, 11 Byron McGuigan, 10 Greig Tonks, 9 Henry Pyrgos; 1 Gordon Reid, 2 Fraser Brown, 3 Jon Welsh, 4 Jonny Gray (captain), 5 Kieran Low, 6 Rob Harley, 7 Tyrone Holmes, 8 Ally Hogg