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Scotland make six changes for Ireland, hand Jaco van der Walt his debut

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(Photo by Giuseppe Maffia/SNS Group via Getty Images)

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Edinburgh stand-off Jaco van der Walt will make his Scotland debut as one of six changes to the starting team to face Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday in the Autumn Nations Cup third-place playoff. The changes follow the home loss to France last Sunday week.


Van der Walt, 26, steps in for Duncan Weir at out-half for his first cap in a backline containing two other changes from last time out. Duncan Taylor has been selected at inside centre, making his first Scotland start since the defeat of Russia at World Cup 2019. The other backs change sees winger Darcy Graham return in place of Blair Kinghorn.

There are also three changes to the pack. Loosehead Rory Sutherland returns to front row duties in place of Oli Keeble,  tighthead Zander Fagerson takes over from Simon Berghan, while Blade Thomson comes into the back row, Hamish Watson missing out.

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Dylan Hartley and Jamie Roberts talk Autumn Nations Cup and what could make rugby a better spectacle
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Dylan Hartley and Jamie Roberts talk Autumn Nations Cup and what could make rugby a better spectacle

Huw Jones and Blair Cowan are set to make their first appearances of the autumn campaign from the bench. Winger Sean Maitland will also win his 50th cap should he become involved in a game where skipper Stuart Hogg wins his 80th cap.

Coach Gregor Townsend said: “We have been impressed with Jaco over the time he has trained with us and we are excited to see him take the next step into international test match rugby.

“It will be a tough challenge over in Ireland, given the quality of our opposition and how they will be looking to end 2020 on a positive note. Being able to bring back Rory Sutherland after his recent injury is a real boost, and it’s great to involve Blair and Huw for the first time this season.


“If they get on the field, 39 players will have had opportunities to play over the past five games, which underlines the current player depth throughout Scottish rugby and shows the competition there is for places now in this Scotland team.”

SCOTLAND (vs Ireland, Saturday)
15. Stuart Hogg CAPTAIN (Exeter Chiefs) – 79 caps
14. Darcy Graham (Edinburgh) – 14 caps
13. Chris Harris (Gloucester) – 22 caps
12. Duncan Taylor (Saracens) – 27 caps
11. Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh) – 4 caps
10. Jaco van der Walt (Edinburgh) – 0 caps
9. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) – 36 caps
1. Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh) – 10 caps
2. Fraser Brown VICE CAPTAIN (Glasgow Warriors) – 53 caps
3. Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) – 33 caps
4. Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors) – 16 caps
5. Jonny Gray (Exeter Chiefs) – 60 caps
6. Blade Thomson (Scarlets) – 8 caps
7. Jamie Ritchie VICE CAPTAIN (Edinburgh) – 22 caps
8. Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) – 8 caps

16. Stuart McInally (Edinburgh) – 40 caps
17. Oli Kebble (Glasgow Warriors) – 4 caps
18. Willem Nel (Edinburgh) – 39 caps
19. Sam Skinner (Exeter Chiefs) – 9 caps
20. Blair Cowan (London Irish) – 17 caps
21. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (Exeter Chiefs) – 13 caps
22. Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors) – 25 caps
23. Sean Maitland (Saracens) – 49 caps


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