THE 11 changes to the Scotland side to face Argentina compared to the one which beat Canada unconvincingly may have been predictable, but coach Vern Cotter still managed to spring a surprise with his choice of captain.
The honour has gone to Grant Gilchrist, at 23 the youngest man to lead the side since Gregor Townsend 18 years ago, and, with only six caps, one of the more inexperienced players to have been handed the job.
He was feeling confident, however. “Vern pulled me to one side and said: ‘Keep it to yourself but I want you to lead the team at the weekend. How do you feel about that?’ Obviously it was a massive honour and I said I would give my all to do a good job for him,” said Gilchrist.
“I haven’t actually captained Edinburgh but I have taken a leadership role this season and it is something I am comfortable with. I captained the under-19s and under-20s a few times. It is something that does come naturally. There is not a lot that fazes me. I will go out and play my best, that is all I aim to do.
“When I have had leadership responsibility before I have looked at it as leading by example, trying to keep putting out the messages that we have had through the week. Cut out the errors we have had in the last couple of weeks and put in the good performance that we will need to beat a team like Argentina on their own patch.
“I’m not going to be a tub-thumping breast-beating captain. Leading by example sounds more like me.
“I like to play on the front foot anyway and put my hand up to carry the ball and take the team forward. If I can do that and the guys will follow me that is what I will look for.”
Overall, Cotter has named an inexperienced side, although Ross Ford bucks that trend by regaining his starting place to win his 75th cap and overtake Gordon Bulloch as the most-capped Scotland hooker.
Nick De Luca is also restored after winning the last of his 41 caps in November and then finding himself surplus to requirements at Edinburgh, forcing a move to Biarritz. He has spoken about his determination to win his place back, and has been handed his chance earlier than he might have hoped.
Scotland team to play Argentina:
S Hogg (Glasgow Warriors); S Maitland (Glasgow Warriors), N De Luca (Edinburgh), P Horne (Glasgow Warriors), T Seymour (Glasgow Warriors); D Weir (Glasgow Warriors), G Hart (Edinburgh); A Dickinson (Edinburgh), R Ford (Edinburgh), G Cross (Glasgow Warriors), J Gray (Glasgow Warriors), G Gilchrist (captain, Edinburgh), R Harley (Glasgow Warriors), B Cowan (London Irish), K Low (London Irish).
Replacements: P MacArthur (Glasgow Warriors), G Reid (Glasgow Warriors), J Welsh (Glasgow Warriors), T Swinson (Glasgow Warriors), C Fusaro (Glasgow Warriors), H Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors), T Heathcote (Bath), D Fife (Edinburgh).