Vern Cotter has wasted no time putting his stamp on the Scotland team he is taking into the Rugby World Cup with three new caps in the first side he has selected since taking over as head coach.
Overall, the team to take on the United States is a mix of experience and planning for the future with the chance that two more uncapped players may come off the bench to make their debuts.
The starting line-up sees Finn Russell, the Glasgow fly half, given his first taste of international rugby after taking over the position at club level ahead of Ruaridh Jackson and Duncan Weir – the two who have fought over the role for club and country for the last two years.
“Finn has been playing very well of late for Glasgow and this is a good chance for him, I like what he offers,” said Cotter. ‘He has been playing good footy and deserves his opportunity. We will see what he brings to the team.”
In the forwards, prop Gordon Reid is rewarded for a rich vein of form that includes scoring the winning try in Glasgow’s RaboDirect Pro12 semi final win over Munster, while Blair Cowan, the player of the season with London Irish, starts at openside flanker. “He is an out-and-out number seven, quick on his feet, can carry and is quick over the ball,” added Cotter. “What he does give us on a dry track is speed; he is quick. He will apply pressure, which is what the game is about, and I am sure he is looking forward to the game.”
The only real hint of controversy is on the bench where Alex Allan, who is switching from Edinburgh to Glasgow because of a lack of opportunities in the capital, is likely to get on for his debut at some stage after playing a total of 12 minutes of professional rugby all season. He is joined by Grayson Hart, who looks set to take over from Greig Laidlaw as the Edinburgh scrum half next season and has been playing regularly.
Injuries force a new and powerful midfield combination with Sean Lamont and Duncan Taylor linking up in the absence of Alex Dunbar and Matt Scott, the regular choices. Cotter has had limited opportunities with the team and admits he has not had time to change much.
“We are working under pretty difficult conditions with the heat so we have had to adapt,” he said. “What I have seen from the players is that there are some very good things in place. I have not changed a lot and since we are preparing for a Test match, there is a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of concentration. We are trying to adapt to the conditions with the travel and things. There are opportunities and a World Cup approaching.”
He is, however, wary of the USA. “You don’t want to underestimate them,” he warned. “They are a very god team, they have four players coming off finals, most of the team are professional.They are nowhere near the team they were and the way they were perceived 10 to 15 years ago.
“They are developing and have core players that are professional and are practiced in the same arts as our players in domestic competition. I know they see Scotland as an opportunity to get a good result. They pushed Ireland close last year and pushed the Maori All Blacks very close. They enjoy playing in Houston, it is their favourite ground. There are a few challenges in front of us.”
Eagles selected for Rugby World Cup preview match against Scotland
HOUSTON, Texas – The starting roster for the Men’s Eagles’ IRB Rugby World Cup preview match against Scotland at BBVA Compass Stadium Saturday, June 7, has been announced.
Shalom Suniula will get his first start in an Eagles jersey at flyhalf behind Mike Petri in Houston. Suniula earned his first two caps earlier this year in the World Cup Qualifier series against Uruguay and scored a try in the second-leg victory.
“We’re looking for Shalom to do what we want out of our 10s: run the show, be an organizer, be a leader,” Eagles Head Coach Mike Tolkin said. “He has athleticism, a nice step, he can shoot holes and take advantage of that. And he has a little bit of flair to his game, which we like. He’s a real skillful player.”
After returning to the Eagles for the first leg of the Qualifier in Montevideo, Hayden Smith missed out on the second leg in favor of Louis Stanfill. Smith re-signed with Saracens in the Aviva Premiership this year following a stint in the National Football League and has earned a starting spot at lock alongside Stanfill.
“Hayden’s looking tighter, he’s gotten rid of the extra bulk,” Tolkin said. “He’s made progress from March and has a road to go, but he’s put himself in a position to play.”
Smith’s Saracens teammate Chris Wyles will start at fullback between fellow Premiership star Blaine Scully and Luke Hume on the wings. Todd Clever will partner Scott LaValla at the flanker position and captain the Eagles in his 57th cap, while Cam Dolan will start at number eight for a sixth consecutive match.
Seamus Kelly, who finished his collegiate rugby career at the University of California, Berkeley this year, will wear the no. 13 jersey alongside Andrew Suniula in the centers.
Despite missing Samu Manoa, the Eagles possess depth on the bench with Tom Coolican, Titi Lamositele, Tim Maupin, Folau Niua, Tai Tuisamoa, and Nick Wallace all capped.
“I look back on the last couple years, especially two years ago during my first summer tour,” Tolkin said. “We were very thin. If we had injuries we were in a lot of trouble. The drop-off was way down and we didn’t sub very much. Now we know whoever goes in is going to perform, so we have no qualms about our bench.”
Scotland also toured the States in 2002 ahead of the 2003 World Cup in Australia, where the Eagles last faced the Scots. The schedule is reflected this year, as the two nations will play each other this weekend and meet again at the World Cup in England in 2015.
BBVA Compass Stadium will host a Tier 1 nation for the third time in as many years Saturday. Italy and Ireland each set new attendance records in 2012 and 2013, respectively, with U.S. tour stops in Houston.
The World Cup preview match kicks off from BBVA Compass Stadium at 7:00 P.M. CT Saturday and will be broadcast live on Universal Sports.
Follow @USARugby on Twitter for live match updates and join the social media conversation with the #USAvSCO hashtag.
|Games played between the United States and Scotland|
|20-Oct-03||Scotland||39 – 15||United States|
|22-Jun-02||United States||23 – 65||Scotland|
|4-Nov-00||Scotland||53 – 06||United States|
|Games Played||3||Games Played||3|
|*Games Won||0||*Games Won||3|
|*Games Lost||3||*Games Lost||0|
|Games Drawn||0||Games Drawn||0|
|*Longest Winning Streak||0||*Longest Winning Streak||3|
|*Longest Losing Streak||3||*Longest Losing Streak||0|
|*Largest Points For||23||*Largest Points For||65|
|*Largest Points Against||65||*Largest Points Against||23|
|*Largest Winning Margin||0||*Largest Winning Margin||47|
|*Largest Losing Margin||-47||*Largest Losing Margin||0|
|*Total Points For||44||*Total Points For||157|
|*Avg Points For||14.67||*Avg Points For||52.33|
|*Total Points Against||157||*Total Points Against||44|
|*Avg Points Against||52.33||*Avg Points Against||14.67|
|*Total Points Difference||-113||*Total Points Difference||113|
|*Avg Points Difference||-37.67||*Avg Points Difference||37.67|
|* = By United States||* = By Scotland|
POSSIBLE RR World Rankings outcome on Result
USA (on 68.04 points) at home -vs- SCO (on 75.16 points)
|Possible Outcome||Rating Point
|If USA win by 1-15 points||1.412||69.45||73.75||No|
|If USA win by more than 15||2.118||70.16||73.04||No|
|If result is a draw||0.412||68.45||74.75||No|
|If SCO win by 1-15 points||0.588||67.45||75.75||No|
|If SCO win by more than 15||0.882||67.16||76.04||No|
USA: 15 Chris Wyles, 14 Blaine Scully, 13 Seamus Kelly, 12 Andrew Suniula, 11 Luke Hume, 10 Shalom Suniula, 9 Mike Petri, 8 Cam Dolan, 7 Scott LaValla, 6 Todd Clever (c), 5 Hayden Smith, 4 Louis Stanfill, 3 Eric Fry, 2 Phil Thiel, 1 Oliver Kilifi
Replacements: 16 Tom Coolican, 17 Nick Wallace, 18 Titi Lamositele, 19 Tai Tuisamoa, 20 Danny Barrett, 21 Folau Niua, 22 Chad London, 23 Tim Maupin
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Sean Lamont, 12 Duncan Taylor, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 Johnnie Beattie, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Al Strokosch, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Geoff Cross, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Gordon Reid
Replacements: 16 Pat MacArthur, 17 Alex Allan, 18 Moray Low, 19 Grant Gilchrist, 20 Kieran Low, 21 Grayson Hart, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Max Evans
Date: Saturday 7th June
Venue: BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston
Kick-off: 1930 local, Sun 0130 BST
Referee: Pascal Gauzere (Fra)
Assistant referees: Francesco Pastrana (Arg), Chris Assmus (Can)
TMO: Alan Hosie (Sco)
Source : RugbyRedefined.com