South Africa v Scotland: Vern Cotter makes four changes

South Africa v Scotland: Vern Cotter makes four changes to his team for Port Elizabeth clash on Saturday

vern cotter
Scotland head coach Vern Cotter Photo: Zegreg/Wikimedia

Vern Cotter has made four changes to his Scotland team to face South Africa in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

With the match falling outside of the IRB international window, the loss of players to their English and French clubs after their dramatic 21-19 win over Argentina in Córdoba has forced the new Scotland head coach to hand Glasgow Warriors youngster Adam Ashe a debut against the Springboks despite having never played for his club.

The 20-year-old number eight had been in Christchurch on the renowned John Macphail Scholarship—which boasts John Barclay, Grant Gilchrist and Jonny Gray among its graduates to have featured at senior level for Scotland—before getting the call from Cotter to join the squad for their final match of a long summer which began in North America and stopped by Argentina last week.

“He is a talented player and the reports of his form in New Zealand have been very positive,” Cotter told www.scottishrugby.org.

“He’s trained well with us and looked sharp. He is a specialist number 8 and this is a golden opportunity for him.”

Also in for the big test against a depleted Springboks side as Scotland look to maintain their 100 per cent winning record this summer is Warriors scrum-half Henry Pyrgos who partners club team-mate Duncan Weir at half-back.

In the second row, Warriors lock Tim Swinson is preferred to team-mate Gray to partner captain Grant Gilchrist.

Another Warriors forward, Chris Fusaro is promoted from the bench to start at openside in place of London Irish flanker Blair Cowan, who has returned to his Aviva Premiership club.

The bench includes Gray and Hart, with Warriors’ South Africa-born flanker Tyrone Holmes take a place for what could become his Scotland debut.

Warriors prop Euan Murray has also been drafted in after returning to his home-town club from Worcester Warriors with Kevin Bryce and Moray Low providing other front-row options.

“I’ve always regarded playing South Africa in South Africa as the benchmark. It’s a massive challenge and it gives our boys an opportunity to lift their level,” Cotter added.

“If we can make accurate choices in the way we play and impose our form of rugby then I think that will be a shift in the right direction.

“I’ve been pleased with the initiative that’s developing within the team. We’re starting to get good variety in our game. Now it’s a matter of seeing if we can do it against very good opposition.”

South Africa: Willie le Roux (Cheetahs); Cornal Hendricks (Cheetahs), JP Pietersen (Sharks), Jan Serfontein (Bulls), Lwazi Mvovo (Sharks); Handre Pollard (Bulls), Fourie du Preez (Suntory Sungoliath); Coenie Oosthuizen (Cheetahs), Bismarck du Plessis (Sharks), Jannie du Plessis (Sharks), Lood de Jager (Sharks), Victor Matfield (Bulls, captain), Marcell Coetzee (Sharks), Schalk Burger (Stormers), Duane Vermeulen (Stormers).

Replacements: Adriaan Strauss (Cheetahs), Trevor Nyakane (Cheetahs), Marcel van der Merwe (Bulls), Stephan Lewies (Cheetahs), Oupa Mohoje (Cheetahs); Francois Hougaard (Bulls), Marnitz Boshoff, (Lions) Zane Kirchner (Leinster).

Scotland: Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors); Sean Maitland (Glasgow), Nick De Luca (Biarritz), Peter Horne (Glasgow), Tommy Seymour (Glasgow); Duncan Weir (Glasgow), Henry Pyrgos (Glasgow); Alasdair Dickinson (Edinburgh), Ross Ford (Edinburgh), Geoff Cross (London Irish), Tim Swinson (Glasgow), Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh, captain), Robert Harley (Glasgow), Chris Fusaro (Glasgow), Adam Ashe (Glasgow).

Replacements: Kevin Bryce (Glasgow), Moray Low (Exeter Chiefs), Euan Murray (Glasgow), Jonny Gray (Glasgow), Tyrone Holmes (Glasgow); Grayson Hart (Edinburgh), Dougie Fife (Edinburgh), Peter Murchie (Glasgow).

Referee: Glen Jackson (NZRU)

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