Scotland v Australia: Jamie Ritchie to lead team for first time; Blair Kinghorn at No10; Scott Cummings blow
Edinburgh’s Jamie Ritchie will lead Scotland out for he first time against Australia this Saturday at BT Murrayfield, but Glasgow lock Scott Cummings has been ruled out of Scotland's Autumn Series with a broken toe.
Ritchie has leadership experience with Scotland having co-captained the side last year to victory over Tonga. He is joined in the back row by Edinburgh teammate Hamish Watson, who led Scotland in their last outing, in the narrow defeat to Argentina in the third Test of the summer tour. Blair Kinghorn starts at stand-off.
But Cummings, who would have been in contention to start at home to Australia on Saturday, suffered an injury in training on Wednesday and will play no part in any of the four Tests over the next month. Gregor Townsend hopes to see the 25-year-old back for the Six Nations campaign in the new year.
"It's a big blow for him because he'd been playing very well for Glasgow and he had a great (summer) tour," said the head coach at his team selection media briefing on Thursday. "He picked up an injury just before the Six Nations so to pick up an injury in training yesterday just before the Autumn Series is so disappointing for him. I'm sure he'll bounce back well and be available for us in the Six Nations."
Cummings' place in the squad is taken by Edinburgh's Glen Young, who has been named among the substitutes for the BT Murrayfield showdown with the Wallabies. Glasgow full-back Ollie Smith is given his first home start after making his debut against Argentina during the summer tour of South America.
"Ollie was outstanding on tour," said Townsend. "He played really well on his debut in challenging circumstances away from home in front of 50,000 Argentina fans. We're glad he's back available because he missed the first few games of the season with injury. He's trained well this week. It's a big occasion when you get to play at Murrayfield (for the first time), even bigger than when you win your first cap."
Ritchie will captain the side for the first time since being appointed as Stuart Hogg's successor, while Blair Kinghorn starts at number 10 after the controversial decision not to select Finn Russell. Glasgow back-rower Jack Dempsey, who won 14 caps with the Aussies prior to making himself available for Scotland following a recent change in World Rugby's international eligibility rules, is in contention to make his debut off the bench against the nation of his birth.
The team for this Saturday is made up entirely of Scottish-based players, with the likes of Adam Hastings, Chris Harris, Josh Bayliss and Hogg unavailable as the match falls outside the international window.