Cotter shakes up Scotland side

Date published: October 1 2015

Head coach Vern Cotter has named the Scotland team to face South Africa in this Saturday’s Rugby World Cup match at St James’ Park, Newcastle.

Cotter, said: “This is a massive test for our team. Playing South Africa is one of the biggest challenges you can face as a rugby player.

“We'll need to be very good on the day.”

For the second week running Cotter has announced ten changes to the starting line-up, however there is a familiar feel to the squad, with just four players set for their first outing in the 2015 tournament.

New arrival, Blair Cowan (back-row), prop Gordon Reid and centre Richie Vernon will all start their first match of the campaign in place of John Hardie – who continues the return-to-play protocol – Ryan Grant and Mark Bennett, while Edinburgh scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne could join them from the bench.

Three further changes have been made to the starting back division: captain Greig Laidlaw returns at scrum-half, where he’ll partner fellow half-back Duncan Weir; a replacement for Finn Russell who continues to recover from an ankle injury.

Wing Tommy Seymour starts in place of Sean Maitland, where he’ll join Tim Visser and Stuart Hogg in the back three – the latter the only player to start all three matches for Scotland thus far.

In the forwards hooker Fraser Brown gets the start that evaded him against USA, when a back row injury forced a late rotation.

He is joined by try-scoring prop Willem Nel – who switches roles with Jon Welsh once again – while the rested Jonny Gray returns to start alongside brother Richie, in place of the injured Grant Gilchrist (groin).

The changes are completed by Josh Strauss, who moves to the blindside flank at the expense of Alasdair Strokosch, to accommodate number eight David Denton.

Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Richie Vernon, 12 Peter Horne, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 Dave Denton, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Josh Strauss, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Richie Gray, 3 WP Nel, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Gordon Reid.
Replacements: 16 Ross Ford, 17 Alasdair Dickinson, 18 Jon Welsh, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 Ryan Wilson, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Peter Horne, 23 Sean Lamont

Date: Saturday, October 3
Venue: St James Park, Newcastle
Kick-off: 16:45 local (15:45 GMT)
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Chris Pollock (New Zealand), Leighton Hodges (Wales)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)