Scotland coach Vern Cotter named his side Thursday for Saturday’s match with Japan at Toyota Stadium, the first in two-test series that has been dubbed the “Revenge Games” by local media.
Scotland were the only side to beat the Brave Blossoms at last year’s Rugby World Cup and Cotter’s side are keen to prove that the win was not solely down to Japan having just four days off after beating South Africa.
“We know they are coming after revenge from the World Cup, so it will be a tough one,” prop Alasdair Dickinson said earlier in the week. “We need to start well, which we did not do particularly well in that game. We need to tidy up a few of our fundamentals and need to come out of the box firing.”
Dickinson was named in a big pack that will look to prevent the Japan side from playing their usual high-paced game.
“They are a confident side and they should be after a good World Cup and after beating Canada last week,” Cotter said Thursday at the team hotel.
“We’re definitely going to have to work hard. But if everyone does their job properly that will make it easy for each other.”
Cotter’s side shows five changes from the end of the Six Nations, with all but one of the alterations injury-related.
Up front, Jonny Gray returns to partner brother Richie at lock — the latter having fond memories of Japan having playing here in the world under-20s championship in 2009 — while Stuart McInally comes in to replace Ross Ford at hooker.
In the backs, there is a surprise selection on the wing with Damien Hoyland picked ahead of Sean Maitland, Ruaridh Jackson is named at flyhalf and Matt Scott comes in for Alex Dunbar at center.
“Jacko had a good season with Wasps and deserves a run,” said Cotter. “Damien has good feet, scores tries and provides line breaks. He’s a good attacking player.”
Cotter said the emphasis this week had been recovering from the journey over and ensuring the team would be able to sustain the energy levels for 80 minutes.
“We want to get a decent set piece and do things simply. We haven’t had time to be too intricate.”
Japan name their side later Thursday evening and Cotter said he anticipated a number of Sunwolves players to be included.
“They have a few injuries but they have depth and beat Canada last week. They play with confidence and play in a certain way that is effective. They will be a fast mobile team and it will be hard to get the ball off them. We are also anticipating a few tricky plays.”
1. Alasdair Dickinson
2. Stuart McInally
3. Willem Nel
4. Richie Gray
5. Jonny Gray
6. John Barclay
7. John Hardie
8. Ryan Wilson
9. Greig Laidlaw (c)
10. Ruaridh Jackson
11. Damien Hoyland
12. Matt Scott
13. Duncan Taylor
14. Tommy Seymour
15. Stuart Hogg
16. Fraser Brown
17. Rory Sutherland
18. Moray Low
19. Tim Swinson
20. David Denton
21. Henry Pyrgos
22. Peter Horne
23. Sean Maitland