Head coach Vern Cotter has made four changes to the starting Scotland side for this Saturday’s summer tour Test match against Canada at the BMO Field in Toronto (14 June, kick-off 2.10pm local time, 7.10pm BST) – live on BT Sport 2.
Two of the four are injury enforced, with lock Grant Gilchrist and centre Peter Horne replacing the injured Jim Hamilton (ankle) and Duncan Taylor (centre).
Horne’s outing will be his first start for the national team, having made two substitute appearances off the bench on last year’s summer tour. A knee injury sustained in his second Test against South Africa curtailed the 24 year-old playmaker’s international involvement this season but strong showings for Glasgow at the tail end have put him in contention for national honours – he is also set to be part of the tour’s second leg.
Lock Grant Gilchrist will make his third start and sixth appearance for his country this Saturday, with the added responsibility of calling the nation’s lineouts alongside former age-grade second-row partner Richie Gray.
The remaining changes see Kelly Brown and Moray Low replace last week’s debutant back-row Blair Cowan and prop Geoff Cross, who start on the bench. Laidlaw will continue to captain the side.
Cotter has made two further changes to the substitutes, with Alex Allan and Pat MacArthur replaced by Kyle Traynor and Kevin Bryce, the latter set for an international debut if called into action.
The head coach said: “Peter [Horne] was due to fly out for the second part of the tour but, because of injury, we’re getting a look at him a week earlier than we thought we would.
“He’s a specialist 12 and he gets an opportunity to slot straight in, having worked hard and asked a lot of questions since arriving.
“Grant [Gilchrist] came on after 35 minutes against USA and played very well.
“He’s a leader within the group through his communication and his performances and was a good example of someone who’s keen and wants to do well for the team. We’re very pleased to give him a start this week.
“Moray [Low] came on at the end of the USA game and played well and now gets an opportunity to start, and Kelly [Brown] comes in to bring all his experience at the end of a very good season with Saracens.
“With Al Strokosch and Kelly you have two back-row players, who can cover both the open and blind sides.
“We have mobile locks who carry the ball well so I think it’s complementary to have all those players together in the forward pack.
“Greig [Laidlaw] will keep the captaincy to give continuity for these two games.”
The match is the second of four Test matches in the summer series with Scotland looking to build on last weekend’s 24-6 win over the USA in Houston, Texas.
The Scots have won two from the three meetings between the sides, the most recent being the nation’s 41-0 win at Pittodrie Stadium in 2008.
Canada’s only win in this fixture came on home soil, when they edged Scotland 26-23 in Vancouver in 2002.
Cotter added: “We know we have a good team against us that are very attack-minded.
“They carry a lot, they’ll run from their own half and they have very big ball carriers that get good support, which makes them a hard team to steal ball from when they start going forward.
“We’re anticipating longer phases of play so we’ll have to stay disciplined, and we’ll have to keep our structure and our shape in defence.
“Heads up rugby is something we will be encouraging at all times, in attack and defence.
“It’s important that the players are always taking on information and using that to seek, create and exploit opportunities.
“We’ve had a little bit more time to work together, look at some new combinations and increase the cohesion of the team so it’s important we step up.”
Scotland team to play Canada at the BMO Field in Toronto this Saturday (14 June, kick-off 2.10pm local time, 7.10pm BST) – live on BT Sport 2.
15 Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors); 21 caps, 5 tries, 25 points
14 Sean Maitland (Glasgow Warriors); 10 caps, 1 try, 5 points
13 Sean Lamont (Glasgow Warriors); 87 caps, 12 tries, 60 points
12 Peter Horne (Glasgow Warriors); 2 caps
11 Tim Visser (Edinburgh Rugby); 13 caps, 7 tries, 35 points
10 Finn Russell (Glasgow Warriors); 1 cap
9 Greig Laidlaw CAPTAIN (Gloucester); 30 caps, 3 tries, 254 points
1 Gordon Reid (Glasgow Warriors); 1 cap
2 Scott Lawson (Newcastle Falcons); 44 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
3 Moray Low (Exeter Chiefs); 27 caps
4 Richie Gray (Castres); 39, 1 try, 5 points
5 Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby); 5 caps
6 Alasdair Strokosch (USA Perpignan); 39 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
7 Kelly Brown (Saracens); 63 caps, 4 tries, 20 points
8 Johnnie Beattie (Castres); 31 tries, 3 tries, 15 points
16 Kevin Bryce (Glasgow Warriors), uncapped
17 Kyle Traynor (Bristol Rugby); 4 caps
18 Geoff Cross (London Irish); 29 caps, 1 try, 5 points
19 Kieran Low (London Irish); 2 cap
20 Blair Cowan (London Irish); 1 cap
21 Grayson Hart (Edinburgh Rugby); uncapped
22 Ruaridh Jackson (London Waps); 24 caps, 18 points
23 Max Evans (Castres); 43 caps, 3 tries, 15 points