Gregor Townsend has named a side balanced with pace and power to face Scotland’s final tour opponents in Suva, Fiji, tomorrow.
Ruaridh Jackson, Nick Grigg and Alex Allan make their first appearances of the tour while Henry Pyrgos, Tim Swinson and Tim Visser return to the starting lineup. Even some distance from our first choice backline, it looks reasonably potent. Pete Horne will control the play from 10 in the absence of Finn Russell, currently keeping some of New Zealand’s finest timber warm.
Plaudits also to Ross Ford who will reach the milestone of 110 caps, making him the most capped male Scottish rugby player of all time (Donna Kennedy has 115). He returns to start in the front row alongside WP Nel and they are joined by Alex Allan.
In the back row there is a nice looking blend of Barclay, Hardie and Strauss with both Watson and Wilson on the bench. Townsend presumably thinks the pace of this game will be more attritional in the pack than the backline, where he only has Price and Tonks as replacements.
Ben Toolis is also rewarded for their hard work so far with a bench spot – the cavalry awaits should they be required.
Fiji: K Murimurivalu; J Tuisova, A Vulivuli, J Vatubua, P Osborne; B Volavola, S Vularika; P Ravai, S Koto, K Tawake, T Cavubati; L Nakarawa, D Waqaniburotu; P Yato, A Qera (capt).
Replacements: T Talemaitoga, J Veitayaki, M Ducivaki, S Nabou, N Dawai, H Seniloli, J Stewart, B Masilevu.
Scotland: R Jackson; D Hoyland, N Grigg, D Taylor, T Visser; P Horne, H Pyrgos; A Allan, R Ford, WP Nel; T Swinson, J Gray; J Barclay (capt), J Hardie, J Strauss.
Replacements: F Brown, G Reid, Z Fagerson, B Toolis, H Watson, R Wilson, A Price, G Tonks.
Coverage will be via: http://www.scottishrugby.org/scottish-rugby-live at around 3.30am.
word yet on whether the stream will be available as a re-run immediately afterwards but you would like to think so given the ungodly hour. Apparently the livestream will be available to watch via WorldRugby’s Facebook page after the game has finished.
In other news, the Lions announced their first test team. It’s a balanced side without too many out of form Welshmen – but still no Scots, who by simple numbers have had little chance to represent. But then you knew that already:
Lions team: L Williams (Wales); A Watson (England), J Davies (Wales), B Te’o (England), E Daly (England); O Farrell (England), C Murray (Ireland); M Vunipola (England), J George (England), T Furlong (Ireland); AW Jones (Wales), G Kruis (England); P O’Mahony (capt, Ireland), S O’Brien (Ireland), T Faletau (Wales).
Replacements: K Owens (Wales), J McGrath (Ireland), K Sinckler (England), M Itoje (England), S Warburton (Wales), R Webb (Wales), J Sexton (Ireland), L Halfpenny (Wales).