Scotland’s systems won’t be changed by the late change enforced on them yesterday for the Autumn Test finale against Australia with Peter Horne coming in, said defence coach Matt Taylor.
Alex Dunbar failed to come through concussion protocols following the head knock that forced him off against New Zealand last week and Horne wins his 28th cap as a straight replacement, the uncapped Phil Burleigh replacing the former Howe of Fife back on the bench.
Horne has been a replacement in both the Autumn Tests so far, scoring the sixth and clinching try against Samoa two weeks ago. He also famously scored a try for Scotland against Australia in the Rugby World Cup quarter-final in 2015 at Twickenham.
“We knew all along Alex had to go through the protocols so Horney’s done a lot of the training, most of the week,” said Taylor. “It’s difficult sometimes when a player has to drop out but we’ve had a lot of time with Pete running attack and defence so we knew it could happen like that, so we’re prepared.”
Dunabr is a defence captain for the SAcotland team but Horne fulfils many of the same roles, he added.
“Alex is in there because he’s a big guy, tackles well and he’s really hard on the ball, like an extra back rower,” he said. “But Horney’s very good at that as well, he’s a real accurate tackler and he brings a lot of communication to the group, so he brings some different strengths.”
Taylor thinks that there will be two highly motivated teams at Murrayfield today.
“They’ll be disappointed that they lost (last week), and we’re disappointed that we lost. We know that there’s been some really close tussles with Australia over the years, they’ve always been close games.
“I think you’ll find two highly motivated teams, and two really attacking teams and some good defence in there. I think it sets up for a really good test match, similar to last week, and hopefully we’re good enough to come out on the right side of it.”
As the margins are so tight, Taylor hopes another full house at Murrayfield will push the Scots over the line.
“BT Murrayfield’s been absolutely unbelievable in terms of atmosphere,” he said. “The crowd last week, a lot of our boys were saying, it’s the best feeling they’ve ever had from a crowd.
“A lot of people who were there last week will be there this week and it’ll be just as good if not better this week. It’s a big part of playing here isn’t it, having that crowd behind you.”
Nathan Grey, Australia’s defence coach, said that the Murrayfield experience was one they were really looking forward to.
“It’s a special place to play,” said the former Wallaby centre. “We’ve got a few guys who haven’t played here before and they’re looking forward to feeling the atmosphere.”