Scotland head coach Vern Cotter is likely to stick to the tried and tested for this weekend’s Calcutta Cup match at Twickenham, which makes the team a lot easier to guess.
There is little doubt around the front-row, with Al Dickinson, Ross Ford and WP Nel set to retain their places from the World Cup quarter-final. The front-five, in fact, will be the same, with the Gray brothers reunited in the engine room.
The only change to the pack that started against Australia may be at blindside, where John Barclay comes into contention after missing out on the World Cup. Blair Cowan is the incumbent 6, but Barclay offers more physicality, while also a menace at the breakdown and a superb defender. The Scarlets man may get the nod because of his added bulk, but Cowan is also likely to have a busy afternoon from the bench.
Beside either of them, David Denton and John Hardie will once more complete the back-row trio with Josh Strauss short of game time.
Skipper Greig Laidlaw will almost certainly link up with Finn Russell as Scotland’s first-choice half-backs, but the rest of the three-quarters is more debatable.
Matt Scott had a good World Cup, and has been first choice under Cotter in the absence of Alex Dunbar who re-appeared briefly for Glasgow in recent weeks before succumbing to injury again. Throw Duncan Taylor in the mix instead and Cotter has a selection dilemma in his midfield. Taylor, a Sarries man who knows the ‘wolfpack’ style of defending, understands England coach Paul Gustard and is in exceptional form deserving of a starting opportunity, but it would be harsh on Scott to pick him at 12.
A lot will come down to the fitness of Mark Bennett – if he’s at 100% he will start at outside centre; if he’s out, expect Taylor to take the 13 shirt.
The back-three is has a familiar look to it, with Hogg and Seymour almost certain to be there, but the final wing berth is another up for grabs with Tim Visser out injured.
If Bennett and Scott are retained from the World Cup quarter-final, Taylor may even find himself deployed on a wing – a role he has performed for Saracens in recent weeks.
Sean Maitland would be the front-runner to join his former Glasgow colleagues but has had injury problems recently, although he did come through 80 minutes for London Irish at the weekend – at fullback.
The bench will see Stuart McInally and Moray Low replace the injured Fraser Brown and Jon Welsh as front-row reserves alongside Gordon Reid, while Sam Hidalgo-Clyne and Ruaridh Jackson will cover the half-backs.
The back-three berth on the bench will go to one of Maitland, Scott or Taylor, depending on the make-up of the starting XV, while the back-row will be covered by Blair Cowan.
The remaining spot is more interesting, with Cotter either able to select a second back-row player, likely to be Josh Strauss, or a conventional lock reserve, probably Tim Swinson.
The need to match Courtney Lawes/Maro Itoje in the final 20 minutes might edge it towards Strauss.
Predicted Scotland XV to play England: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Duncan Taylor, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Tommy Seymour, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw; 1 Al Dickinson, 2 Ross Ford, 3 WP Nel, 4 Richie Gray, 5 Jonny Gray, 6 John Barclay, 7 John Hardie, 8 David Denton
Replacements: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 Moray Low, 19 Josh Strauss, 20 Blair Cowan, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Sean Maitland