DAVID BARNES in YOKOHAMA
SCOTLAND squad captain Stuart McInally has been dropped to the bench for the team’s crucial final World Cup pool match against Japan on Sunday, if it goes ahead in the aftermath Typhoon Hagibis.
Fraser Brown starts in McInally’s place at hooker, while scrum-half Greig Laidlaw will skipper the side.
Head coach Gregor Townsend has made 12 personnel and one positional change from the side which beat Russia 61-0 on Wednesday, but a big turnover was always expected. There are only two personnel changes from the side which beat Samoa a week past Monday.
The other crucial selection change is on the wing, where Tommy Seymour returns in place of Sean Maitland, who has a groin injury and is improving but not sufficiently to make the cut for this game.
Peter Horne and Blair Kinghorn come onto the bench, with Adam Hastings and Duncan Taylor dropping out of the squad which lined up against Samoa. Those are selection decisions.
“It’s taken a real squad effort from our players here in Japan to put us in a position to play for a place in the quarter-finals, having risen to the challenge of what’s effectively been knockout rugby since the second round of our Pool,” said Townsend.
“The entire group has featured in our past two Tests, both of which have been clinical and professional performances.
“It was great to see players get the opportunity to play in this World Cup on Wednesday and it looked like they enjoyed the experience.
“The effort invested in defence, support play and clearing has been encouraging and has put a lot of pressure on the opposition.
“A few players have pushed hard for selection with the form they’ve shown in training and in the last two games and it’s now down to this group of 23 men to build on this momentum and squad togetherness to deliver a winning performance against Japan.”
“The opportunity to face the hosts in such a decisive Pool match will be a unique occasion and should be a great spectacle.
“Games of this magnitude don’t come around very often in a playing career so we will be giving it everything to make sure it is a memorable match.”
Scotland (v Japan at Yokohama International Stadium on Sunday 13th October, kick-off 7.14pm Japan time, 8.15am BST): Stuart Hogg; Tommy Seymour, Chris Harris, Sam Johnson, Darcy Graham; Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw (CAPTAIN); Allan Dell, Fraser Brown, WP Nel, Grant Gilchrist, Jonny Gray, Magnus Bradbury, Jamie Ritchie, Blade Thomson.
Replacements: Stuart McInally, Zander Fagerson, Gordon Reid, Scott Cummings, Ryan Wilson, George Horne, Peter Horne, Blair Kinghorn.
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