Scotland look for change of fortune under Williams

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The Independent Online

A run of six straight defeats, including a whitewash in the Six Nations' Championship, is not the ideal premise for a celebration, but with the Barbarians in Edinburgh, what the hell? Up to 30,000 souls are expected to sample Murrayfield's brand of entertainment - half-time parachutists and the like - as Scotland continue their rocky path of reconstruction under their coach, Matt Williams.

A run of six straight defeats, including a whitewash in the Six Nations' Championship, is not the ideal premise for a celebration, but with the Barbarians in Edinburgh, what the hell? Up to 30,000 souls are expected to sample Murrayfield's brand of entertainment - half-time parachutists and the like - as Scotland continue their rocky path of reconstruction under their coach, Matt Williams.

Scotland have made three changes to the side which concluded the Six Nations against Ireland in March, as they aim to defeat the Barbarians for the first time in nine meetings. The backs are the same, albeit Chris Paterson has lost the "captain" suffix from behind his name, but three forwards are rested - Tom Smith, Stuart Grimes and Jason White - and the No 8, Simon Taylor, is out until the autumn at least with a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament.

The one new face in this non-cap XV is in the back row where Scott Gray, a 26-year-old with a mere four starts for Bath, lines up opposite the somewhat more worldly-wise trio of Taine Randell, Bob Skinstad and Aaron Persico. The Barbarians, with 808 caps between the 22 of them, are seriously good in all departments. Take your pick between Brian O'Driscoll, Christian Cullen, Vili Delasau and Thomas Castaignède as the inheritor of Jonah Lomu's dazzling drawcard in the backs.

Taylor is one of eight Scots unavailable through injury for the tour to Australia and New Zealand, which begins tomorrow but has already started for an advance party of 16 players who flew out on Wednesday to grab the best balcony rooms in Brisbane. There are Tests against the Wallabies, in Melbourne and Sydney, and the larger squad than normal permits a team to split off for a Test against Samoa in Wellington on 4 June.

It has been speculated, though not yet confirmed by the Scottish Rugby Union, that Williams will have a new forwards coach, Willie Anderson, by his side down under. The former Ireland captain worked with Williams at Leinster.

Scotland XV: C Paterson (Edinburgh); S Danielli (Bath), T Philip (Edinburgh), A Henderson (Glasgow), S Webster (Edinburgh); D Parks (Glasgow), Cusiter (The Borders); A Jacobsen (Edinburgh, G Bulloch (Glasgow), B Douglas (The Borders), I Fullarton (Sale Sharks), S Murray (Edinburgh, capt), C Mather (Glasgow), S Gray (Bath), A Hogg (Edinburgh). Replacements: S Scott (The Borders), J Brannigan (Edinburgh), S MacLeod (The Borders), A Hall (Glasgow), G Beveridge (Glasgow), S Cranston (The Borders), G Morton (The Borders)

Barbarians: C Cullen (Munster & New Zealand); S Horgan (Leinster & Ireland), T Castaignède (Saracens & France), B O'Driscoll (Leinster & Ireland), V Delasau (Crusaders & Fiji); D Humphreys (Ulster & Ireland), M Robinson (Northampton & New Zealand); G Feek (Blues & New Zealand), A Oliver (Highlanders & New Zealand), C Visagie (Saracens & South Africa), M Andrews (Newcastle & South Africa), A Persico (Leeds & Italy), T Randell (Saracens & New Zealand), B Skinstad (Newport Gwent Dragons & South Africa). Replacements: M Sexton (Ulster), O le Roux (Sharks & South Africa), B Mika (Auckland & New Zealand), E Miller (Leinster & Ireland), N de Kock (Stormers & South Africa), M Burke (NSW Waratahs & Australia), B Reihana (Northampton & New Zealand).

Referee: Joël Jutge (France).

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