JACK DEMPSEY will make his Scotland debut from the bench against Australia – the country he represented 14-times before switching allegiance through World Rugby’s new birthright eligibility rule – on Saturday evening. Matt Fagerson starts at No 8.
Meanwhile, second-row Scott Cummings has out of the squad for this Autumn series due to a broken toe. He has been replaced by Glen Young, who comes straight onto the bench because Richie Gray is not available this week through concussion.
“Richie’s injured so he’s not available,” explained head coach Gregor Townsend. “He’s going through his graduated return to play which was delayed but I think he has now got on to stage three.
“He’s back iun our camp tonight [Thursday] and everything being well he should be able to start full training next week, so fingers crossed he’ll be available next week.
“It’s an opportunity for Glen [Young], who impressed so much in the summer that we kept him for the Test series which wasn’t the original plan, and he came off the bench in the third Test. He’s obviously competing with our two starting second-rows, Grant and Sam, at his club but we know he can add something different off the bench this weekend.”
Dave Cherry is preferred to George Turner at hooker. “It was a very tight call,” said Townsend. “George stayed out an extra week in South Africa – Glasgow had a couple of injury issues – so that probably counted against him. And it was obviously disappointing for George that they didn’t play, but no-one’s going to predict that.
“Dave played very well for us in the second Test against Argentina. He’s a really consistent performer and I think he’s been on great form for Edinburgh – real explosivity as well as consistency.
“I think George has been in good form too. It was an interesting challenge they [Glasgow] had against the Sharks [a fortnight ago] with the line-out issues they faced, but it was a great learning game for them. Physically George is in a really good place and I’m sure he’ll get his opportunity throughout this campaign.”
Meanwhile, Jamie Ritchie captaining the side for the first time [he co-captained the team against Tonga last year] from blindside flanker.
The players in the squad attached to non-Scottish clubs are not available for this match as it is being played outside World Rugby’s international window.
Scotland (v Australia at Murrayfield, Saturday @ 5.30pm): O Smith; D Graham, M Bennett, S Tuipulotu, D van der Merwe; B Kinghorn, A Price (VC); P Schoeman, D Cherry, Z Fagerson, S Skinner, G Gilchrist (VC), J Ritchie©, H Watson, M Fagerson. Substitutes: G Turner, J Bhatti, W Nel, G Young, J Dempsey, G Horne, R Thompson, D Hoyland.