Injured lock Richie Gray named in Scotland team to face New Zealand
Tuesday 06 November 2012
Lock Richie Gray has been named in the Scotland team for Sunday's EMC Autumn Test with New Zealand, subject to undergoing a fitness test on his ankle.
Head coach Andy Robinson has named a side showing five changes from the XV which began Scotland's last Test, the June 23 win in Samoa.
Gray is partnered in the second row by Jim Hamilton, who was banned for the summer tour for an indiscretion while playing for Gloucester, with Kelly Brown returning from injury to win his 50th cap and first as captain.
Centre Nick De Luca and scrum-half Mike Blair replace injured duo Joe Ansbro and Chris Cusiter, respectively, while Geoff Cross starts at tighthead prop in place of Euan Murray, who is not available as the All Blacks clash falls on a Sunday.
Brown replaces Richie Vernon, who was not selected in the initial squad.
Holland-born Edinburgh wing Tim Visser will make his first Scotland appearance at Murrayfield, having qualified on residency grounds in June before scoring two tries on his debut in Fiji.
Visser is joined in the back three by Stuart Hogg and Sean Lamont.
De Luca's partner in the centre is Matt Scott, who will also make his home debut.
Blair, who moved to France from Edinburgh in the summer, teams-up at half-back with Greig Laidlaw, the Edinburgh captain.
Glasgow Warriors prop Ryan Grant made his first three appearances in the summer wins in Australia, Fiji and Samoa and takes a 100 per cent international record into the clash with the world champions.
Ross Ford, who was captain for the 2012 RBS 6 Nations and the summer tour, completes the front-row, starting at hooker.
The only uncapped player in the matchday 23 is Glasgow Warriors' Henry Pyrgos, who provides cover for Blair from the substitutes' bench.
Robinson knows his side must improve on their June displays to have any hope of beating the All Blacks for the first time.
Robinson said: "For our first game of the season we will really need to start well and keep the game simple.
"New Zealand are the world champions and they perform the basic skills, well, under the highest pressure.
"We need to step up from the summer tour and be ready to go toe to toe in a physical contest, just as Australia did most recently against New Zealand in Brisbane.
"Congratulations to Kelly Brown who will captain Scotland for the first time and will join distinguished company in winning his 50th cap."
The match is a near 67,144 sell-out, with further Tests against South Africa and Tonga, in Aberdeen, to come this month.
Scotland team to play New Zealand in the EMC Autumn Test at Murrayfield, Edinburgh on Sunday, November 11 (kick-off 1430):
S Hogg (Glasgow Warriors); S Lamont (Glasgow Warriors), N De Luca (Edinburgh), M Scott (Edinburgh), T Visser (Edinburgh), G Laidlaw (Edinburgh), M Blair (Brive); R Grant (Glasgow Warriors), R Ford (Edinburgh), G Cross (Edinburgh), R Gray (Sale Sharks), J Hamilton (Gloucester), A Strokosch (Perpignan), R Rennie (Edinburgh), K Brown (captain, Saracens).
Substitutes: S Lawson (London Irish), A Jacobsen (Edinburgh), K Traynor (Bristol), A Kellock (Glasgow Warriors), D Denton (Edinburgh), H Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors), R Jackson (Glasgow Warriors), M Evans (Castres).
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