SCOTLAND head coach Vern Cotter has rung the changes for tomorrow’s Test against New Zealand, but only on the bench. The starting XV which faced Argentina last weekend is the same.
It is difficult to remember when Scotland last fielded the same team in two consecutive Tests and a it is rarity for them to be able to do so at all.
Jim Hamilton has been dropped from the bench, blamed perhaps for the two late Pumas tries when he was sitting in the sin bin, to be replaced by Tim Swinson, who offers a little more mobility against the world’s quickest team. Fraser Brown takes Scott Lawson’s place, Johnnie Beattie comes in for Alasdair Strokosch and the concussion suffered by Henry Pyrgos means that there is room for veteran scrum-half Chris Cusiter, whose all-action style will have an impact off the bench in the final quarter.
We have always wondered how Scotland would fare against New Zealand’s second string – we’ll find out on Saturday. The All Blacks announced a reserve side, albeit one with added impetus from the two best players in world rugby over the last decade, Richie McCaw and Dan Carter.
With 135 caps, the former has more than the rest of the visiting forward pack put together and by a considerable margin, because four of the All Blacks tight five boast just 17 caps between them.
Meanwhile, Carter, on 101, has more caps than the other six Kiwi backs combined, even if he hasn’t started an international game since November of last year against England.
Scotland may have a small advantage with more experience in the forwards but Cotter was still adamant that his fellow countrymen are firm favourites.
“Logic will say we have no chance of winning this,” said the Scotland boss. “Reasonable people will say we have no chance but our players have big hearts and want to give this a crack.”
Scotland team to play New Zealand at BT Murrayfield this Saturday 15 November in the viagogo Autumn Tests (kick-off 5.30pm)
15 Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors); 25 caps, 7 tries, 1 penalty, 38 points
14 Sean Maitland (Glasgow Warriors); 14 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
13 Mark Bennett (Glasgow Warriors), 1 cap
12 Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors); 9 caps, 3 tries, 15 points
11 Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors); 11 caps, 4 tries, 20 points
10 Finn Russell (Glasgow Warriors); 3 caps
9 Greig Laidlaw CAPTAIN (Gloucester); 32 caps, 3 tries, 33 conversions, 65 penalties, 276 points
1 Alasdair Dickinson (Edinburgh Rugby); 37 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
2 Ross Ford (Edinburgh Rugby); 78 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
3 Euan Murray (Glasgow Warriors); 61 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
4 Richie Gray (Castres); 40 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
5 Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors); 6 caps, 1 try, 5 points
6 Rob Harley (Glasgow Warriors); 8 caps, 1 try
7 Blair Cowan (London Irish); 4 caps
8 Adam Ashe (Glasgow Warriors); 2 caps
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