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Thursday Aug 13, 2015

Vern Cotter announces experimental Scotland side for Dublin encounter

Vern Cotter will field an inexperienced Scotland side in this weekend’s World Cup warmup match with Ireland in Dublin. New Zealand-born flanker Hugh Blake will make his first start while scrum-half Henry Pyrgos captains the squad.

Making a return to international action is Wasps’ Ruaridh Jackson, who will start in an unfamiliar full back role. Edinburgh’s Greig Tonks takes the fly-half berth while his club captain Grant Gilchrist will complete his comeback from a broken arm in the second row.

The Scots have just four games before the final squad selection is made on 31 August. Cotter’s choices will be made easier by those players who perform, and he believes his coaching team have given the side the best chance to do so.

He said:  “It’s  been  important  to  get  a  good  look at  everyone  over  the  last  two months.

“The  strength  and  conditioning  team  have  worked  hard  to  get  more power  and  endurance  from  our players,  while  we’ve  also  focused  a  lot on  basic  skill  sets.

“The  successful  application  of  these  elements  will  enable  us  to  perform the  various  forms  of  rugby that  we  would  like  to  play;  dominating collisions  and  using  these  skill  sets  to  become  better  at  making and executing  decisions.

“These  23  players  now  have  the  first  chance  to  stake  a  claim  for  the final  31-­man  squad  for  the Rugby  World  Cup,  against  what  we know  is  quality  opposition.”

Scotland play their first World Cup match against Japan on 15 September at Gloucester’s Kingsholm Stadium. Between now and then, they face a home and away encounter with Italy before traveling to Paris to face France, by which time the final 31 will have been chosen.

Aviva Stadium, Dublin (15 August, kick-­off 5pm) – live on Sky Sports.

Scotland Team:

Backs:
Ruaridh Jackson (Wasps), Sean Lamont, Richie Vernon, Peter Horne (all Glasgow Warriors), Tim Visser (Harlequins), Greig Tonks (Edinburgh Rugby), Henry Pyrgos (c) (Glasgow Warriors)

Forwards:
Ryan Grant, Fraser Brown, Jon Welsh (all Glasgow Warriors), Jim Hamilton (Saracens), Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby), Blair Cowan (London Irish), Hugh Blake (Glasgow Warriors), David Denton (Edinburgh Rugby).

Replacements:
Ross Ford (Edinburgh Rugby), Gordon Reid, Mike Cusack, Robert Harley (all Glasgow Warriors), John Barclay (Scarlets), Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (Edinburgh Rugby), Duncan Weir (Glasgow Warriors), Matt Scott (Edinburgh Rugby).

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