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RWC 2023

Scotland at full strength for World Cup opener against Springboks

Scotland at full strength for World Cup opener against Springboks
Former Junior Bok Duhan van der Merwe will play against the Springboks at RWC 2023 when the sides meet in a Pool B clash in Marseille on Sunday. (Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Scotland have made two changes to their starting line-up for their opening Rugby World Cup clash against South Africa

Scotland have strengthened their scrum and made one backline change for their opening Rugby World Cup clash as coach Gregor Townsend on Friday named the team to take on holders South Africa in Marseille on Sunday.

It is a full-strength line-up with Zander Fagerson and Pierre Schoeman taking over at prop from WP Nel and Jamie Bhatti respectively, and George Turner in at hooker in place of Dave Cherry.

Veteran Richie Gray, who competed at the 2011 and 2015 World Cups but missed out on Japan four years ago, returns in the second row in place of Sam Skinner.

Blair Kinghorn at fullback in place of Ollie Smith is the only other change from the 33-6 win over Georgia at Murrayfield on 26 August when Scotland played the last of their four pre-tournament warm-up Tests.

The centre combination of Huw Jones and Sione Tuipulotu continues and could be key to Scotland’s hopes, along with their pacy wings Darcy Graham and Duhan van der Merwe.

Former Australia international Jack Dempsey is picked ahead of Matt Fagerson at the base of the scrum while there is no place in the match day squad for three players who toured South Africa with the British & Irish Lions two years ago — centre Chris Harris, prop Rory Sutherland and flanker Hamish Watson.

Gregor Townsend, Head Coach of Scotland

Gregor Townsend, Head Coach of Scotland during the Summer International match between Scotland and Georgia at BT Murrayfield Stadium on 26 August, 2023 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

“We’re ready to go, it’s been a long build-up but an enjoyable one,” Townsend said. “I believe it is going to be a brilliant game. Two teams that are in form and desperate to get out of this pool.

“The team (Scotland) has evolved as one that doesn’t panic when things are going against them. They stay strong together, they listen and stay focused and are ready to learn from things that happen in the game and at training.”

Townsend is expecting both sides to attack with ball in hand.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Springboks name formidable squad for Rugby World Cup clash against Scotland

“It will be a game that is a mix of power and pace,” he said. “Maybe two years ago you would say South Africa are all power, but they have added to different parts of their game and are moving the ball more now.

“That brings challenges to our defence, but also gives us opportunities for how we can get the ball back and start to play our game.”

Two of the Scottish starting XV are South African born with both Schoeman and Van der Merwe winning caps with the Junior Springboks before moving to Scotland to play club rugby and qualifying for their Test side after three years of residency. Both have since become cult heroes with Scottish fans. Reuters/DM

Scotland team:

15-Blair Kinghorn, 14-Darcy Graham, 13-Sione Tuipulotu, 12-Huw Jones, 11-Duhan van der Merwe, 10-Finn Russell, 9-Ben White, 8-Jack Dempsey, 7-Rory Darge, 6-Jamie Ritchie (capt.), 5-Grant Gilchrist, 4-Richie Gray, 3-Zander Fagerson, 2-George Turner, 1-Pierre Schoeman

Replacements: 16-Dave Cherry, 17- Jamie Bhatti, 18-WP Nel, 19-Scott Cummings, 20-Matt Fagerson, 21-Ali Price, 22-Cameron Redpath, 23-Ollie Smith

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