Rugby Union: Scotland omit Hastings for Australia Test

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The Independent Online
Scott Hastings, Scotland's most capped international, has been left out of a side that includes one new cap for the Royal Bank international against Australia at Murrayfield on Saturday.

Hastings, who has made 62 appearances for his country and who was in outstanding form in New Zealand in the summer, gives way at outside centre to the captain, Gregor Townsend, who moves from stand-off.

The reshuffled back line sees Craig Chalmers restored to the No 10 position after a year out of favour and Ron Eriksson brought in for his second cap at inside centre.

"We want to offer a threat across the whole of the back division," said the Scotland assistant David Johnston, who admitted he had been impressed with Chalmers' form on the summer tour.

"His rehabilitation started in New Zealand. Chalmers' game has changed a lot since this time last year. He has many skills to offer us."

Scotland, with Chalmers at stand-off, are clearly intent on bringing greater variety into their game and are not excluding the possibility of using tactical kicking. "It is easy to forget the kicking option. Some of the most successful teams in the world kick a lot," Johnston said.

Chalmers will renew his half-back partnership with Gary Armstrong which started at the beginning of the Five Nations' Championship in 1989.

The one new cap is the flanker Murray Wallace, who will wear the No 6 jersey. He has had rapid promotion, having gained his first A cap against Australia at Galashiels last week.

The 29-year-old Wallace, whose elder brother Fergus played for Scotland A two seasons ago, was only recently offered a full-time contract by the Scottish Rugby Union.

"Murray has been known to us since the 1993 tour to the South Sea islands," said the Scotland coach Richie Dixon, who revealed that the coaching staff has been looking at a new type of blend in the back row.

"The new laws demand different skills. Murray is the kind of player that we are looking for. He is very experienced, used to running in space and can put in big tackles."

Wallace is still coming to terms with the rapid change in fortune over the past seven days. "It hasn't sunk in yet," he said. "But I can tell you that I am really looking forward to the match.

"There were several periods in my career when I felt very low, especially when I got injured. My elder brother Fergus, however, encouraged me. He got me out of bed to go training."

The winger David Campese has been dropped by Australia for Saturday's Test match against Scotland - just a fortnight after collecting his 100th cap.

Campese, who played in the Wallabies' 40-18 win over Italy in Padua on 23 October, makes way for Joe Roff in the one-off international at Murrayfield.

Other players axed from the last Test are half-back George Gregan and prop Andrew Heath, replaced by Sam Payne and Andrew Blades, while there is a debut for flanker Owen Finegan.

SCOTLAND (v Australia, Murrayfield, Saturday): R Shepherd (Melrose); A Stanger (Hawick), G Townsend (Northampton, capt), R Eriksson (London Scottish), K Logan (Stirling County); C Chalmers (Melrose), J Armstrong (Newcastle); D Hilton (Bath), K McKenzie (Stirling County), B Stewart (Edinburgh Academicals), D Cronin (Wasps), G Weir (Newcastle), M Wallace (Glasgow High Kelvinside), E Peters (Bath), I Smith (Gloucester). Replacements: D Stark (Melrose), S Hastings (Watsonians), B Redpath (Melrose), S Murray (Bedford), A Watt (Currie), G Ellis (Currie).

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