Vern Cotter has named a strong Scotland squad ahead of their first match of this year’s Rugby World Cup against Japan at Kingsholm. The Pool B match would originally have been seen as not too troubling, but that has all changed in recent days.
Stuart Hogg starts at full back for the Scots while Greig Laidlaw captains the squad.
In the pack, New Zealand-born John Hardie takes his place alongside David Denton and Ryan Wilson to form a strong back-row with Glasgow Number 8 Josh Strauss on the bench.
The front row is an all Edinburgh lock-out with Alasdair Dickinson joining Ross Ford and WP Nel. Elsewhere, Tim Visser misses out altogether, ceding his wing spot for the robust Sean Lamont.
In many ways, Cotter has been forced into selecting a near first-choice 23 after Japan’s stunning 34-32 triumph over South Africa at the weekend.
Speaking of his selected players, Cotter stressed that his team can leave nothing to chance as they look to kick off their World Cup campaign on the right foot.
He said: “We’ve prepared well for what will be a very tough Test against a powerful and fit Japanese team, who like to play a high-tempo game.
“They [Japan] will have taken a lot of confidence from their opening win over South Africa however that doesn’t change our approach to this game or the pool. The priority for us to ensure that we get our jobs right with accuracy, and impose ourselves on the game.
Scotland squad to face Japan in the Rugby World Cup Pool B match at Kingsholm, Gloucester on Wednesday 23rd September (kick-off: 14.35 BST):
Scotland Team to face Japan:
Backs: Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Mark Bennett, Matt Scott, Sean Lamont, Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw (Captain).
Forwards: Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford, Willem Nel, Grant Gilchrist, Jonny Gray, Ryan Wilson, John Hardie, David Denton
Replacements: Fraser Brown, Ryan Grant, Jon Welsh, Richie Gray, Josh Strauss, Henry Pyrgos, Peter Horne, Sean Maitland