Gregor Townsend likes an adventurous selection – “Toonie Tombola”, when he would find ever more unlikely ways to fashion a team different to his last, was a favourite feature of his days at Glasgow.
Even now with Scotland, the head coach can’t help himself. Sometimes it backfires – Chris Harris being pitched into a first start in Cardiff in February was really not fair to the player – sometimes it works. This summer tour, the first two games particularly, have given Townsend plentiful scope to indulge his whims.
Canada and the USA were the warm-ups for the proper test (rather than Test) against the Pumas in the delightfully named Resistencia next week. Against a pretty hapless Canadian team, it was no real issue to have such a lack of experience in the side, but the USA are not a bad team at all.
Last time in Houston, in super-sweltering evening heat with a stronger, more battle-hardened team , Scotland barely got by the Eagles. The hosts are arguably a better team now than then.
There’s plenty of promise in this unfamiliar Scotland team, although the continuing absence of both Stuart McInally and Duncan Taylor causes concern.
Having Tim Swinson at six and Lewis Carmichael at lock when it might be better the other way about is one glaring and puzzling choice.
George Horne deserves his shot at scrum-half and as Faf de Klerk showed for South Africa against England last week, pace at scrum-half can be a devastating attacking weapon in the modern game.
It’s a hugely proud day for the Howe of Fife club with the Horne brothers playing, and Strathallan School have four former pupils in the squad in both Fagersons, George Horne and Murray McCallum.
I think the Horne-Hastings combination at half-back is what Dave Rennie will favour at Glasgow next season, and it’s exciting to see them together for Scotland so soon. Peter Horne’s assuredness and guidance at inside centre will be crucial, but there’s pace and power to burn with a formidable back three of captain Stuart Hogg, Blair Kinghorn and Bryron McGuigan.
Luke Hamilton was having a great game as a replacement against the All Blacks before he was himself injured, and he deserves another shot. Matt Fagerson sould really have been with the Under 20s this summer, but it shows how far he’s come so quickly.
Injuries and absences – and there’ll be more after Saturday, no doubt – make it difficult to see what Townsend’s “best team” for Argentina will be. But no matter what the result on Saturday, expect a few more rabbits out of the hat.