Scotland have picked a strong side for their send-off game prior to the Rugby World Cup with what could be the first look at a new and potentially first-choice centre partnership.
Sam Johnson and Duncan Taylor have been paired in what might well, be the duo that plays in the opening pool match against Ireland in Yokohama on September 23. In the meantime, they get a first run alongside each other against Georgia in the return game after last week’s comfortable 44-10 win in Tbilisi.
Although there might have been some temptation for Gregor Townsend to spare some of his squad of 31 named on Tuesday prior to the flight out to the first camp in Nagasaki on Monday, he’s only retained two of those who didn’t make the cut, Grant Stewart and Magnus Bradbury, and they’re both on the bench.
There are returns from concussion for Tommy Seymour and Blade Thomson, and the first appearance of the warm-ups for key man Jonny Gray, who has recovered from a hamstring injury. Ryan Wilson will captain the team from the back row.
This is Scotland’s first ever international at BT Murrayfield on a Friday night, to give the players a weekend off before the 14 hour flight to Japan.
“We’ve been together since the middle of June and Friday night is our final chance this year to play in front of our supporters,” said Townsend.
“It’s another opportunity for players to get valuable game time and build on what was a very good performance last weekend in Georgia. We are very aware that Georgia will be much improved after their first hit out of the season and they will know much more about how we play.
“We expect a very tough challenge and it will require an improved performance from our men to deliver a winning outcome.”
Townsend paid tribute to Stewart and Bradbury and others who just missed out on a squad place.
“As with all those that didn’t make the 31-man squad, it’s important they keep training and playing well in case they get a call up during the tournament,” he said.
“I’d also like to thank the players and management for their outstanding contributions throughout our World Cup camp. It’s a credit to their hard work and professionalism that the squad are in such great physical condition.
“Friday night gives us the opportunity to keep improving and get one step closer to playing our best rugby over the next few weeks.”
Scotland team: Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh); Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors),Duncan Taylor (Saracens), Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors), Darcy Graham (Edinburgh); Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors), Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors); Gordon Reid (Ayrshire Bulls), George Turner (Glasgow Warriors), Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors); Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors), Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors); Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors, capt), Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh), Blade Thomson (Scarlets).
Replacements: Grant Stewart (Glasgow Warriors), Allan Dell (Edinburgh), Simon Berghan (Edinburgh), Ben Toolis (Edinburgh), Magnus Bradbury (Edinburgh), George Horne (Glasgow Warriors), Pete Horne (Glasgow Warriors), Chris Harris (Gloucester).