ROSS MCCANN will start at outside centre for the Scotland under-20 team in their crucial Junior World Cup clash against Ireland tomorrow [Sunday] morning. The Melrose player, who was one of the team’s outstanding performers in an encouraging performance against New Zealand in their opening match of the campaign on Wednesday, is more used to playing on wing. He has been shifted inwards by head coach John Dalziel in order to accommodate the powerful and experienced Robbie Nairn on the right touchline. Lewis Berg drops out of the match-day 22 as a consequence.
The only other change in the backline sees Heriot’s scrum-half Andrew Simmers come into the side for Charlie Shiel of Currie.
In the pack, Stirling County’s Adam Nicol returns to the starting tighthead prop berth he occupied throughout the Six Nations, having shown why he is going to be key member of this campaign when solidifying a creaking scrum as a second half replacement against the Baby Blacks on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Luke Crosbie moves from blindside flanker to openside in place of fellow Currie youngster Thomas Gordon, who has a head knock. Bruce Flockhart of Glasgow Hawks takes over the number six jersey.
“We’ve named a fairly settled side, with a few players meriting selection through their performance in training and in the match against New Zealand,” said Dalziel.
“It’s been a quick turnaround, but this game is huge in terms of being a must-win if we are to hit the targets we have set ourselves as a group.
“We know Ireland are a quality side and there’s no doubt we’re in for a big battle come game time, but we fronted up for large periods of the game against New Zealand and we’ll be looking to take those positives from that performance into this match.”
Scotland can expect something of a backlash in this match after Ireland slumped to a surprise defeat to Italy in their opening match of this Junior World Cup campaign; but Dalziel’s boys will feel they have something to prove as well given that they endured an agonising 19-20 defeat to the Irishmen when they met in the Six Nations.
Scotland have never finished better than eighth in a Junior World Cup. A defeat in this match would not obliterate their hopes of improving on that record, but it would kill-off their outside chance of qualifying for the top four Cup competition for the first time ever. In fact, they almost certainly need to win with a bonus point if they want to make it into the semi-finals.
Scotland Under-20 team to play Ireland Under-20 @ AIA Arena in Kutaisi, Georgia in the World Rugby Under-20 Championship on Sunday 4th June (kick-off 1pm local/10am BST) –
15. Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Rugby)
14. Robbie Nairn (Ayr)
13. Ross McCann (Melrose)
12. Stafford McDowall (Ayr)
11. Darcy Graham (Hawick/Edinburgh Rugby)
10. Connor Eastgate (Wasps)
9. Andrew Simmers (Heriot’s)
1. George Thornton (Bishop Burton College)
2. Fraser Renwick (Hawick)
3. Adam Nicol (Stirling County)
4. Alex Craig (Gloucester)
5. Callum Hunter-Hill (Stirling County/Edinburgh) CAPTAIN
6. Bruce Flockhart (Glasgow Hawks)
7. Luke Crosbie (Currie)
8. Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Hawks)
16. Robbie Smith (Ayr)
17. Fergus Bradbury (Stirling County)
18. Ross Dunbar (Boroughmuir)
19. Hamish Bain (Currie)
20. Tom Dodd (Worcester)
21. Charlie Shiel (Currie)
22. Josh Henderson (Glasgow Hawks)
23. Patrick Anderson (Melrose)