Scotland head coach Vern Cotter has made six changes to the Scotland team to face Japan in this Saturday’s second test match in Tokyo. He said ahead of the first test that he wanted to give game time to everyone on tour which has just about happened with the exception of the injured Ross Ford. Not often he doesn’t make an appearance, and the hooker will now have to wait until November for his 100th cap.
Another big name missing from the starting XV is captain Greig Laidlaw, with Henry Pyrgos given a chance to show what he can do. As well as the captain’s armband, kicking duties will fall to him too. Ruaridh Jackson retains the 10 shirt with Pete Horne moving off the bench into the inside centre berth instead. Originally not picked in the touring party, Matt Scott shuffles outside for the injured Duncan Taylor. Sean Maitland gets a start on the wing with a return to what was the “top” back three available at least until Maitland’s form nosedived. While it means Damien Hoyland misses out altogether, Stormers centre Huw Jones comes on to the bench for potentially a first cap as does hardy perennial Sean Lamont.
In the pack, Rory Sutherland keeps the loosehead berth after a strong showing last weekend and it is his first start for his country and Stuart McInally continues at hooker. If he can improve the odd lineout error we saw last weekend he could mount a serious challenge to Ford. For the first time since he burst on to the scene a year ago, WP Nel gets a wee rest on the bench while Moray Low gets a chance to bolster the scrum.
John Hardie also gets a bit of a rest with a beefy back row of Strauss, Barclay, Wilson but out new favourite import is on the bench if a bit of zip is needed late on. In the second row it is business as usual for the Gray brothers.
With the Emperor in attendance this weekend, the Japanese team will be looking to make amends for an penalty strewn performance that kept them out of contention until Scotland were well ahead. Scotland will want to secure the series with another win, and with Horne, Jackson and Pyrgos running things preferably in some style – but even without Laidlaw in charge, it may remain: by any means necessary.
Scotland team to play Japan at the Ajinomoto Stadium, Tokyo, Saturday 25 June (kick-off 7.20pm JST, 11.20am BST, – live on BBC):
Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Matt Scott, Pete Horne, Sean Maitland, Ruaridh Jackson, Henry Pyrgos (capt); Rory Sutherland, Stuart McInallly, Moray Low, Richie Gray, Jonny Gray, Josh Strauss, John Barclay, Ryan Wilson.
Replacements: Fraser Brown, Gordon Reid, WP Nel, Tim Swinson, John Hardie, Greig Laidlaw, Huw Jones, Sean Lamont