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Autumn Nations Cup: Scotland Team Announcement v Italy


Scotland coach Gregor Townsend announced his matchday squad to face Italy for their inaugural Autumn Nations Cup match, and a strong line-up shows the strength in depth being created despite there being four changes to the XV named to play against Wales.

The big news – as had been forecasted – is the return of Duncan Weir in the 10 jersey due to the long-term injuries sustained by Finn Russell and Adam Hastings against Wales.

“Duncan always gives 100% whenever he plays, we see the effort he puts in in defence and support play, and the time he spends on the training field. He’s now in his late 20s and playing in a position where you do learn throughout your career like what pictures you’re going to see from different defences and also just the skills he’s built up over the years.

“He’s playing great rugby and it’s a bonus for us that with two players injured we can call on someone playing regularly at Premiership level and is really confident in what he’s doing.”

Weir will start alongside the returning Sam Johnson at inside centre, and Duhan van der Merwe replaces Blair Kinghorn on the left-wing with Kinghorn dropping to the bench.

The other change to the starting line-up sees former captain Stuart McInally replacing the captain v Wales, Fraser Brown.

“Fraser picked up a head injury yesterday in training, just a scrum collapsed and he had symptoms yesterday with a headache so that rules him out of the weekend but he seems to be in a better place today. We hope he’ll get through the protocols and be available next week or the following week, but we just have to wait on that one.”

Townsend also revealed that scrum-half George “Horneito” Horne suffered a toe injury in the same session and his place on the bench will be taken by a fourth member of Exeter’s European and English championship winning squad, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, for what could be his first appearance in Scotland colours since the 2018 tour of the Americas.

Scotland: Stuart Hogg, Darcy Graham, Chris Harris, Sam Johnson,
Duhan van der Merwe, Duncan Weir, Ali Price; Rory Sutherland,
Stuart McInally, Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings, Jonny Gray,
Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Blade Thomson

Replacements: George Turner, Oli Kebble, WP Nel, Sam Skinner,
Nick Haining, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, James Lang, Blair Kinghorn

39 Responses

  1. Strong team by Toonie. Not too much to quibble about really.

    Progress is winning this with minimum drama. In spring we laboured to victory so we need a steady win with our 3rd choice FH and that would be a good day at the office.

    Big chance for SHC off the bench, worrying for Horne that he seems out of favour. Predictably Jones hasn’t made bench despite form, I’m guessing Lang covers centres and FH and Kinghorn FB and wing. Hopefully Jones gets his chance later this autumn.

    Good to see Skinner back as well, he can make a big impact off the bench.

    Saturday will be all about Duncan Weir. I hope he plays with a smile in his face and shows he can orchestrate our attack as well as kick well. It would be a huge bonus to have confidence in our 3rd choice FH – a situation that has probably never existed before in Scottish rugby history.

    1. Apparently George Horne was injured in training this week but is hoped to be back soon.

      Same story for Brown.

      1. Fair enough. I actually think both Turner and SHC have a lot to offer so I hope they get a decent chunk of gametime and stake their claims.

  2. Very happy with selection and pleased to see DVDM starting and Thomson retained at 8, but accept it is probably last chance saloon for him. Expect to see Kinghorn for Hogg at some point. I also hope Jones and Matt Fagerson get their chances later in series.

  3. Good selection overall. Try to keep the starting XV the same as familiarity breeds confidence (not contempt, as the saying would have us believe).
    The only changes are at 2, 10, 11 and 12.
    With Brown injured it’s an obvious choice to start Rambo with Turner on the bench.
    We’ve all known that Wee Dunc would start in the absence of Finn and Adam. Lang or Hogg would have been extreme choices.
    With Johnson back, Lang moves to the bench, covering 10 and 12.
    Kinghorn may feel unlucky but Duhan is a better winger and Blair can cover the back three.
    With Exeter’s form, it’s no surprise to see Skinner and SHC get bench spots. And Berghan has been a slight liability the last couple of games and Nel needs a game.
    At 8, Thomson was good against Wales, albeit outshone by his backrow colleagues. Deserves to keep his place and Haining probably gets the node over DuPreez, IMO.
    Confident we should win this by 15 .
    I really feel for Ben Toolis, though.

    1. Thomson seems to do everything pretty well. just not enough of it.

      I hope he is just growing into test rugby, number 8 is still a position that is up for grabs with at least four contenders, none of whom have really taken their chance to nail down the position.

      1. You could add in Bradbury as the 5th Contender as well. Seeing he held the jersey earlier this year.

  4. Good team. Feel Jones would have figured but Kinghorn covers both wing, FB and outside centre. Pleased that Thomson is retained. He has been playing very well for Scarlets. Very sensible dropping young Horne. He is too much like Price and our tighter game needs a good kicking scrum half. Hildago Clyne has been on form and deserves the call up. Pyrgos would have been better though. And Duncie is back. Magnificent. Again a kicking fly half suits our game plan. When you look at the players not starting, many not in the match squad, the depth in quality, particularly inn the forwards is pronounced.

  5. Just don’t think he plans to play Jones at all. Toony can be stupidly stubborn at times!!! Feel they need a cutting edge in the centres to get away from an arm wrestle with Italy

    1. Harris is nailed on number 13 atm but it just depends on whether Toonie plans to play him in every game. Personally, I think he needs to take this opportunity to deepen the squad and that should mean not playing anyone in all 6 games in the autumn (including two just gone).

      It is quite likely we’ll be playing against a second string France because of the 3 game restriction the deal with the LNR places on appearances. Their first choices have already played 2 games so have one left – I expect them to play in the next game and then field a second string for the rest of the tournament, although they could keep their strongest team for us or the final round.

      Either way, whether it is against France or Fiji I expect we’ll see Lang and Jones play at least one test each.

  6. Wish Duncan Weir well. He’s a chance of a handful of caps in the coming weeks and i cant remember him letting us down before. Not as exciting a fly half as Russell but then not many in World rugby are. His style could well suit pragmatic Scotland and he’s in good form.

    1. What I really like about Weir is his sheer enthusiasm for playing for Scotland.
      Remember the days when our choice was Parkes or Godman or ….?

  7. If we don’t win this by at least 25 points and keep them scoreless, then we are not doing something right. On paper this should be a comfortable win

  8. It a pity that the majority of Scottish rugby fans and nation will miss the autumn series , as Scottish rugby sticks two fingers up to the watching public and signs a deal with Amazon prime , a premium price for the wider audience when so many people have been made redundant and can’t afford it in such difficult times . SRU thanks for bringing us more misery in such hard times.

    1. Sign up for one month free trial of Amazon Prime on Friday then make sure you cancel it a maximum of 29 days later. The risk is that you forget to cancel! A bit of a faff but surely their coverage will be better than Premier Sports – that’s a low bar to clear…..

    2. The overseas expat sympathises.
      BeIn sports have been good with 6 nations coverage for a while and advertised the forthcoming Autumn Nations cup featuring the countries involved.

      All games are live this weekend…..except ours.
      All games are replayed in full multiple times over subsequent days….except ours.

      To add insult to ignore, they are replaying Ireland versus Wales at the time our game is taking place.

      1. AndyF, VPN is your friend for Prime access for expats. I have a UK account and can usually access Prime from my overseas location. You could sign up for free trial as others have said but for £7.99 a month, it’s good value.

    3. The majority will only miss out if the don’t already have Prime, as tens of millions of households do, or if they’re too tight to take free trial or pay £7.99. The whining about this is absolutely pathetic.

  9. Squad of Forwards are perhaps the strongest I’ve seen for many a long year, swapping potential Lions props with no loss of effectiveness is awesome strength in depth.

    Agree with Big Al’s 2 posts above.

    Skinner & Haining rumbustious replacements.

    I reckon Italy will be fairly uncomfortable about the game

    1. That will be good for both sides, Italy have nothing to lose , they will throw it around. Good luck to Duncan Weir. He is not 100% perfect , but he is 100% committed. You cannot help warm to him. I hope he has a great day.

      1. I predict Weir will go well on Saturday. He is a good decision-maker which I think will benefit our midfield. Hastings goes into contact way too much because he is indecisive and is then out of the game for the following 2 or 3 phases.

  10. I take it the free trial on Amazon Prime will allow instant access and by App or streaming to desk/lap top? I am looking forward to giving it a go. I cannot see me taking it for longer than the month.

    1. Yes you can download an app straight away for most laptops mobiles or tablets. It’s all very straight forward plus ya will get a month of free tv shows n films as well as the rugby

      1. What is not to like about that. Thank you. I imagine I just need to give enough notice to back out before the annual charge hits! It is likely to morph into an annual commit by stealth but that is just what they all do and for me to manage.

      2. Just make a note on the day you start the trial, one moth ahead, n cancel it anytime before that day, you should still then get the free month. Hope you enjoy brother!

        Ps,,, its a monthly charge n not a one off annual payment

      3. If you have a smart tv you can usually get the Prime TV app on your tv and watch the game on your tv rather on a laptop or tablet.

  11. It’s a good team. The one piece of selection I don’t quite get is how SH-C has leapfrogged Steele. I actually think SH-C is a better scrum half, but Steele came on for the last 10 – 15 against Wales, was put straight onto the wing and didn’t do anything wrong. Seems strange to then take him out of the 23 altogether with no run at all in his actual position. Odd piece of Tombola – maybe he’s pencilled in for a start against Fiji.

  12. Fair question Chiel however as you likely agree SHC has ability to be starting SH, Steele hasn’t (I think). SHC was trusted to play in 2 major cup finals.

    Being Scottish I try & stop being too confident but this game will be a fascinating watch, we have the forwards to have the upper hand & the back 3 to do real damage.

    I’ve had Amazon Prime for years I think its tremendous value (that’s before the rugby)

  13. No Maitland in the selection. You never seen that one coming . Well I did , said so and got accused of being drunk. Well done to the SRU on doing the right things.

    1. Maitland a Rolls Royce & IMO a much better option than Kinghorn. Maybe no quite match fit after the BaaBaas shenanigans

      1. I think it is more about taking a stand on his willful disregard for the Covid safe environment he was asked to abide by with the Ba Ba’s. The SRU obviously don’t want to be seen to pat on the back for that by including him IMO. If anyone knows differently speak up ? They need to take a stand.

        There is the occasional one in here that will disagree, but that is more about them than common sense and the ethics of the situation we all find ourselves in.

  14. Not really near our best team we could put out at the moment now is it?

    1) Oli Kebble
    2) Stuart Mcinally
    3) Zander Fagerson
    4) Sam Skinner
    5) Scott Cummings
    6) Jamie Ritchie
    7) Hamish Watson
    8) Cornell Du Preez

    9) Sam Hidalgo-Clyne
    10) Duncan Weir
    11) Duhan Van Der Merwe
    12) Sam Johnson
    13) Mark Bennett (underrated what he can do in the Edinburgh team, good defense with better attack)
    14) Darcy Graham
    15) Sean Maitland

    16) George Turner
    17) Rory Sutherland
    18) Willem Nel
    19) Jonny Gray
    20) Magnus Bradbury
    21) Ali Price
    22) Stuart Hogg
    23) Chris Harris

    1. If only there was a way to set up a filter to recognise a team as such obvious trolling it could just be automatically blocked…

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