Summer internationals: Scotland look to finish on a high

Paul Eddison
22 June 2018

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Scotland finish their June tour in Argentina this weekend as Gregor Townsend’s young side look to end with a win against Los Pumas.

Last weekend they went down narrowly to the USA, but a clash with Argentina in Resistencia will give them the chance to put things right.

And to do so Townsend has made eight changes to his team with a number of exciting inclusions from a Guinness PRO14 perspective.

MAC IS BACK

Stuart McInally was named as tour captain with John Barclay and Greig Laidlaw not included, but missed both Tests in north America due to injury.

However he has recovered in time to take on Argentina and the Edinburgh hooker will lead his country for the first time on Saturday.

The 27-year-old has prior experience of captaining Scotland at age-group level, while he has also led Edinburgh, so he should be comfortable in the new role.

And given his past as a back-rower before switching to hooker, expect him to be a dynamic presence up front for the Scots.

BROWN THE FLANKER

On the subject of hookers who can play in the back row, Townsend has made the bold call to start Fraser Brown, the Glasgow Warriors No.2, at openside flanker.

It will be a first Test start in the position for Brown, who has featured in the back row for the Warriors in the past.

Brown has also previously been used off the bench in the back row, including during last week’s clash in Houston, so that should help him adapt to the new position.

Townsend explained his decision saying: “Fraser is an excellent hooker but we believe this week that the breakdown is going to be such an important area and we need Fraser’s strength there.”

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HORNE-HASTINGS PULL THE STRINGS

For the second successive week, Townsend has placed his faith in youth in the half-backs with George Horne and Adam Hastings getting the nod.

The duo have shone when given the opportunity in the Guinness PRO14 this season, with Horne particularly impressive in a breakthrough campaign.

While they still have a lot to prove at international level, it is an indication of the regard with Townsend holds the Warriors duo that he has stuck with them in potentially the toughest match of the tour.

They will have the benefit of an all-Glasgow Warriors centre pairing outside them, not to mention Stuart Hogg at the back, so there will be plenty of familiarity for the pair.

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FIFE’S LONG ROAD BACK

Two years ago it seemed that Dougie Fife’s chances of a Test recall were over when he seemed to have lost his place at Edinburgh and had instead turned to playing Sevens for Scotland.

Now, still only 27, and after a fine campaign under Richard Cockerill in the Scottish capital, he is back on the Test scene, and will start on the wing on Saturday.
Called up following Lee Jones’ injury, Fife has been rewarded for a campaign in which he made 18 starts for Edinburgh, scoring five tries.

As a result, he will make his first Test start in three years, going up against Sebastian Cancelliere, the 23-year-old who will win his eighth Test cap.

After scoring late on in the loss to the USA, Fife will hope to have a similar impact from the off this time around.

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