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Townsend rings the changes as Scotland prepare for Ireland clash

Townsend rings the changes as Scotland prepare for Ireland clash

Townsend rings the changes as Scotland prepare for Ireland clash

Jaco van der Walt will make his Scotland debut on Saturday, in one of six changes by Gregor Townsend for the Autumn Nations Cup trip to Ireland.

Van der Walt will start at fly-half in the third/fourth place playoff, while Duncan Taylor is named at inside centre and will win his first cap since the 2019 World Cup.

Darcy Graham also returns to start on the right wing, while in the pack Rory Sutherland is back after injury, Zander Fagerson replaces Oli Kebble and Blade Thomson replaces Hamish Watson.

Among the replacements, flanker Blair Cowan and centre Huw Jones are set for their first caps of the autumn, while winger Sean Maitland could win his 50th.

“We’ve been together for the past two months and from a coaching perspective it has been a real joy seeing the group come together and work so hard to improve both individually and collectively,” Townsend said.

“We are looking forward to facing Ireland in what will be an opportunity to continue our progress away from home once again.

“We have been impressed with Jaco over the time he has trained with us and we’re excited to see him take the next step into international test match rugby. It will be a tough challenge over in Ireland, given the quality of our opposition and how they will be looking to end 2020 on a positive note.

“Being able to bring back Rory Sutherland after his recent injury is a real boost, and it’s great to involve Blair and Huw for the first time this season. If they get on the field, 39 players will have had opportunities to play over the past 5 games, which underlines the current player depth throughout Scottish rugby and shows the competition there is for places now in this Scotland team.”

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Scotland team to face Ireland:

15. Stuart Hogg CAPTAIN (Exeter Chiefs) – 79 caps
14. Darcy Graham (Edinburgh) – 14 caps
13. Chris Harris (Gloucester) – 22 caps
12. Duncan Taylor (Saracens) – 27 caps
11. Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh) – 4 caps
10. Jaco van der Walt (Edinburgh) – 0 caps
9. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) – 36 caps
1. Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh) – 10 caps
2. Fraser Brown VICE CAPTAIN (Glasgow Warriors) – 53 caps
3. Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) – 33 caps
4. Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors) – 16 caps
5. Jonny Gray (Exeter Chiefs) – 60 caps
6. Blade Thomson (Scarlets) – 8 caps
7. Jamie Ritchie VICE CAPTAIN (Edinburgh) – 22 caps
8. Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) – 8 caps

16. Stuart McInally (Edinburgh) – 40 caps
17. Oli Kebble (Glasgow Warriors) – 4 caps
18. Willem Nel (Edinburgh) – 39 caps
19. Sam Skinner (Exeter Chiefs) – 9 caps
20. Blair Cowan (London Irish) – 17 caps
21. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (Exeter Chiefs) – 13 caps
22. Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors) – 25 caps
23. Sean Maitland (Saracens) – 49 caps

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