Scotland lock Alastair Kellock believes extra competition from within the squad and the growing strength of this afternoon’s opponents Japan mean every player in dark blue will need to be at their best at Murrayfield.
Lock Tim Swinson and wing Tommy Seymour make their first Scotland appearances against a Japan side who shocked Wales in Tokyo in the summer, and Kellock knows they cannot be taken lightly.
“Their set-piece is very, very good, their tackling and defence is very good, the structure of their attack is as good as any of the top teams,” he said. “They have sorted things out from the bottom up and they still have the ability to cut you open if they get good ball.”
Ireland face Samoa in Dublin with prop Jack McGrath making his debut and experienced hooker Rory Best has backed him to thrive. “Having watched his games this season, he deserves his chance,” said Best.
In Paris, France take on world champions New Zealand with yet another new pairing at half-back. Morgan Parra will start at scrum-half alongside twice-capped fly-half Remi Tales – the ninth different combination the coach Philippe Saint-André has fielded since the 2012 Six Nations.