Hamish Watson dropped, but Haining and McInally get nod for Scotland against Springboks

Edinburgh's Nick Haining and Stuart McInally will start for Scotland against South Africa at Murrayfield, but Hamish Watson drops to the bench and Darcy Graham misses out altogether.
Hamish Watson is a surprise omission from the starting XV. Picture: Paul Devlin / SNSHamish Watson is a surprise omission from the starting XV. Picture: Paul Devlin / SNS
Hamish Watson is a surprise omission from the starting XV. Picture: Paul Devlin / SNS

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has made four changes to his starting XV for this Saturday's autumn Test against the world champions at BT Murrayfield.

Edinburgh's Haining comes in to start in the back-row on the blindside flank, with club-mate and vice-captain Jamie Ritchie moving to the openside, while club-mate Stuart McInally comes in at hooker.

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Pierre Schoeman earns his third start at loosehead prop in a pack made up of five Edinburgh players.

Watson was man of the match in last weekend's 15-13 win over Australia and featured against the Wallabies for the Lions in the summer but he drops to the bench, while Sam Johnson, George Turner and Edinburgh winger Graham all drop out of the matchday squad.

Sale Sharks hooker Ewan Ashman, who scored a memorable debut try as a replacement against the Wallabies, again starts on the bench.

Leicester centre Matt Scott earns his first start for the national team since June 2017, when he played against Italy in Singapore in Townsend's first match in charge. He comes in for his 40th cap and partners Gloucester’s Chris Harris,

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Glasgow's Rufus McLean also comes back into the side after sitting out following a double try-scoring debut against Tonga the previous weekend.

Townsend has added experience to the replacements with Edinburgh’s Blair Kinghorn providing cover across the backs alongside Glasgow scrum-half George Horne and Gloucester’s Adam Hastings.

Townsend said: “We'll have to raise our level of performance on Saturday against the world champions.

“We know what to expect from the Springboks in how they play and the physicality they will bring across the team.

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“We have selected a side that we believe can both meet that challenge and give us the platform to impose our game on the opposition.

“It should be a full-blooded contest and will require an intensity and focus across our 23-man squad for the full 80 minutes.”

Stuart Hogg will win his 87th cap, which draws him level with lock Scott Murray in fourth position on the all-time Scotland capped list.

Scotland team to face South Africa at BT Murrayfield (live on Amazon Prime, Saturday 13 November 2021, kick-off 1pm)

15. Stuart Hogg – Exeter Chiefs - (Captain) – 86 caps

14. Rufus McLean – Glasgow Warriors - 1 cap

13. Chris Harris – Gloucester Rugby – 29 caps

12. Matt Scott – Leicester Tigers – 39 caps

11. Duhan van der Merwe – Worcester Warriors – 11 caps

10. Finn Russell – Racing 92 - (Vice-Captain) – 56 caps

9. Ali Price – Glasgow Warriors – 44 caps

1. Pierre Schoeman – Edinburgh Rugby – 2 caps

2. Stuart McInally – Edinburgh Rugby - 41 caps

3. Zander Fagerson – Glasgow Warriors – 40 caps

4. Sam Skinner – Exeter Chiefs – 13 caps

5. Grant Gilchrist – Edinburgh Rugby – 46 caps

6. Nick Haining – Edinburgh Rugby – 9 caps

7. Jamie Ritchie – Edinburgh Rugby - (Vice-Captain) – 29 caps

8. Matt Fagerson – Glasgow Warriors – 15 caps


16. Ewan Ashman – Sale Sharks – 1 cap

17. Jamie Bhatti – Glasgow Warriors – 20 caps

18. Oli Kebble – Glasgow Warriors – 10 caps

19. Jamie Hodgson – Edinburgh Rugby – 2 caps

20. Hamish Watson – Edinburgh Rugby – 43 caps

21. George Horne – Glasgow Warriors – 15 caps

22. Adam Hastings – Gloucester Rugby – 24 caps

23. Blair Kinghorn – Edinburgh Rugby – 26 caps