Vern Cotter has wasted no time putting his stamp on the Scotland team he is taking into the Rugby World Cup with three new caps in the first side he has selected since taking over as head coach.
Overall, the team to take on the United States tomorow night is a mix of experience and planning for the future with the chance that two more uncapped players may come off the bench to make their debuts.
The starting XV sees Finn Russell, the Glasgow stand-off, given his first taste of international rugby after taking over the position at club level ahead of Ruaridh Jackson and Duncan Weir, the two who have fought over the role for club and country for the last two years.
“Finn has been playing very well of late for Glasgow and this is a good chance for him, I like what he offers,” said Cotter. “He has been playing good footy and deserves his opportunity. We will see what he brings to the team.”
In the forwards, prop Gordon Reid is rewarded for a rich vein of form that includes scoring the winning try in Glasgow’s RaboDirect Pro12 semi-final win over Munster, while Blair Cowan, the player of the season with London Irish, starts at openside flanker.
“He is an out-and-out number seven, quick on his feet, can carry and is quick over the ball,” added Cotter.
“What he does give us on a dry track is speed; he is quick. He will apply pressure, which is what the game is about, and I am sure he is looking forward to the game.”
The only real hint of controversy is on the bench where Alex Allan, who is switching from Edinburgh to Glasgow because of a lack of opportunities in the capital, is likely to get on for his debut at some stage after playing a total of 12 minutes of professional rugby all season.
He is joined by Grayson Hart, who looks set to take over from Greig Laidlaw as the Edinburgh scrum-half next season and has been playing regularly.
Injuries force a new and powerful midfield combination with Sean Lamont and Duncan Taylor linking up in the absence of Alex Dunbar and Matt Scott, the regular choices.
Cotter has had limited opportunities with the team and admits he has not had time to change much.
“We are working under pretty difficult conditions with the heat so we have had to adapt,” he said. “What I have seen from the players is that there are some very good things in place.
“I have not changed a lot and since we are preparing for a Test match, there is a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of concentration. We are trying to adapt to the conditions with the travel and things. There are opportunities and a World Cup approaching.”
He is, however, wary of the USA.
“You don’t want to underestimate them,” he warned. “They are a very good team, they have four players coming off finals, most of the team are professional.They are nowhere near the team they were and the way they were perceived ten to 15 years ago.
“They are developing and have core players that are professional and are practised in the same arts as our players in domestic competition.
“I know they see Scotland as an opportunity to get a good result. They pushed Ireland close last year and pushed the Maori All Blacks very close. They enjoy playing in Houston, it is their favourite ground. There are a few challenges in front of us.”
Team: Stuart Hogg (Glasgow)
Sean Maitland (Glasgow)
Sean Lamont (Glasgow)
Duncan Taylor (Saracens)
Tim Visser (Edinburgh)
Finn Russell (Glasgow)
Greig Laidlaw (Gloucester)
Gordon Reid (Glasgow)
Scott Lawson (Newcastle)
Geoff Cross (Glasgow)
Richie Gray (Castres)
Jim Hamilton (Montpellier)
Alasdair Strokosch (Perpignan)
Blair Cowan (London Irish)
Johnnie Beattie (Montpellier)
Subs: P MacArthur (Glasgow Warriors), A Allan (Edinburgh), M Low (Glasgow Warriors), G Gilchrist (Edinburgh), K Low (London Irish), G Hart (Edinburgh), R Jackson (Glasgow Warriors), M Evans (Castres).