100 up for Ford

Date published: November 10 2016

Scotland hooker Ross Ford is set to earn his 100th cap for the national team after he was named to start against Australia at Murrayfield.

Ford made his international debut when he replaced Gordon Bulloch against the Wallabies in Edinburgh in 2004 and has been a mainstay of the Scotland front-row since his return to the jersey two years later, starting 83 of his Test appearances to date.

He follows in the footsteps of Scotland’s two other cap centurions in the men’s game, record cap holder Chris Paterson (109) and Sean Lamont (105).

Ford’s extensive experience could prove invaluable this weekend as he prepares to pack down between clubmate Allan Dell – who will mark his debut with a starting spot in the loosehead berth – and once-capped, 20-year-old tighthead prop, Zander Fagerson.

Fagerson is one of three players to earn his first Scotland start at Murrayfield, with the scintillating form of Edinburgh back-row Hamish Watson and Stormers centre Huw Jones rewarded with a place in the back-row and midfield respectively.

Scotland head coach Vern Cotter said: “Congratulations first to Ross Ford on reaching this special milestone. It’s fantastic for him and his family that he’ll achieve it in front of the home fans at Murrayfield, who I’m sure will give him a great reception.

“To play 100 Test matches for your country is an incredible achievement, with his lasting dedication keeping him among the best hookers in the world for a decade.

“He is a consummate professional and, at 32, he has plenty left to give in a Scotland jersey.”

The long-awaited fixture between the two nations is on target to be played in front of a home record crowd for the fixture, surpassing the previous highest attendance set more than ten years ago (64,120).

Cotter added: “It’s been eight months since we last played at home so the players are desperate to get out there and put in another winning performance in front of our home support.

“We’ve prepared well over the past couple of weeks in camp, with the players working hard technically and tactically for what will undoubtedly be a tough Test match against one of the world’s top teams.

“We must not relent in our pursuit of success and to do the Scottish people proud.”

John Barclay and Ryan Wilson complete the loose forwards with the increasingly ever-present partnership of brothers Jonny and Richie Gray filing into the second-row.

In the backs, Greig Laidlaw and Finn Russell will reform their pivotal partnership – with Russell long-since recovered from the head injury that ruled him out of the summer Tests – while Alex Dunbar – another to miss the tour through injury – joins Jones in a new-look centre partnership.

The starting line-up is completed with the selection of Stuart Hogg, Tim Visser and Sean Maitland in the back three, with Tommy Seymour unavailable for personal reasons.

Another notable inclusion appears among the replacements with Glasgow Warriors scrum-half Ali Price set to make his debut if called upon from the bench.

Price is one of two players originally listed as ‘training with the squad’ to be given the nod by Cotter for this Saturday’s Test, with replacement wing Rory Hughes in line to make a first home appearance.

Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 John Barclay, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Allan Dell
Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 Moray Low, 19 Grant Gilchrist, 20 John Hardie, 21 Ali Price, 22 Pete Horne, 23 Rory Hughes

Date: Saturday, November 12
Venue: Murrayfield
Kick-off: 14:30 GMT
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand), Ian Davies (Wales)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)