(Reuters) – Adam Hastings returns at flyhalf for Scotland as one of nine changes for the final November international against Argentina at Murrayfield on Saturday as coach Gregor Townsend continues to rotate his squad.
The decision to give Hastings the number 10 jersey means Finn Russell, who started in the 26-20 loss to South Africa last weekend, will move to inside centre to partner Huw Jones.
Stuart Hogg has overcome an ankle scare to retain his place at fullback, while Blair Kinghorn gets a first start this month on the wing with Sean Maitland making up the rest of the back three.
There are also six changes in the pack, including an all-new front row of Allan Dell, hooker Fraser Brown and Simon Berghan, the same trio that finished the defeat to the Springboks.
Lock Jonny Gray will this week be partnered by Grant Gilchrist in the second row, while Jamie Ritchie returns to the starting line-up on the flank and Josh Strauss makes a first start at number eight since June 2017.
“With four test matches in succession, we’ve been conscious of rotating the squad to enable as many players as possible to be in the best physical condition for each contest,” Townsend said in a media release from Scottish Rugby.
“We are expecting those selected this weekend to bring energy and huge effort to the game and seize the opportunity to perform at their best level against a very good team.
“It will be another huge challenge, not only for our forward pack, but also for our defence – as Argentina play ambitious, skilful and effective attacking rugby.”
Wing Byron McGuigan will be part of the matchday 23 for the first time in November as he is named on the bench.
Scotland won 44-15 in Argentina in June, but Townsend says the South American side have since been revived under new coach Mario Ledesma.
“Under Mario Ledesma, Argentina delivered some outstanding performances and they were hugely impressive in their victories over South Africa and Australia in the recent Rugby Championship,” Townsend added.
“I’m sure that they will throw everything at us to end their international season on a high note.”
Scotland also lost to Wales 21-10 in their opening match this month, but thumped Fiji 54-17 before their defeat to the Boks.
Team: 15-Stuart Hogg, 14-Sean Maitland, 13-Huw Jones, 12-Finn Russell, 11-Blair Kinghorn, 10-Adam Hastings, 9-Greig Laidlaw (captain), 8-Josh Strauss, 7-Hamish Watson, 6-Jamie Ritchie, 5-Jonny Gray, 4-Grant Gilchrist, 3-Simon Berghan, 2-Fraser Brown, 1-Allan Dell
Replacements: 16-Stuart McInally, 17-Alex Allan, 18-WP Nel, 19-Sam Skinner, 20-Ryan Wilson, 21-George Horne, 22-Alex Dunbar, 23-Byron McGuigan.
(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Christian Radnedge)