Scotland pick McLean, bench Watson for South Africa Test

·2-min read
Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend (AFP/Geoff Caddick)

Novice wing Rufus McLean will win his second Scotland cap against South Africa on Saturday, with flanker Hamish Watson dropping to the bench at Murrayfield among four changes to coach Gregor Townsend's starting line-up.

Scotland beat Australia 15-13 last week in their second match of the Autumn Nations Series, following a 60-14 thumping of Tonga.

But they have not defeated the world champion Springboks since 2010.

Glasgow's McLean, 21, comes into the starting team after he scored two tries on his Test debut against Tonga last month.

In the pack, Edinburgh's Nick Haining is at blindside flanker, with club colleague Jamie Ritchie moving to the openside and star back-row Watson benched.

There is a return to the front row for Edinburgh's Stuart McInally at hooker.

Leicester centre Matt Scott earns his first Scotland start since June 2017, when he played against Italy in Singapore in Townsend's first match in charge.

Sam Johnson, Darcy Graham and George Turner have all dropped out of the matchday squad.

Townsend, a former Scotland playmaker, said he expected a "full-blooded contest" against South Africa, who beat Wales 23-18 last week.

"We have therefore selected a side that we believe can both meet that challenge and give us the platform to impose our game on the opposition," he said.

Townsend added Scotland had "good competition" on the wing and that McLean deserved his spot.

"I thought Rufus was outstanding against Tonga, just thrived in that Test match environment," Townsend explained.

"We think Rufus is ready and can offer something different and some of the elements of his game... are exceptional."

The head coach said Haining had proved his worth in the Six Nations victory away to France in March, backing Watson to make a "big impact" off the bench if required.

"He (Haining) played a very physical team out in Paris at the end of the Six Nations, performed well, thought he came off the bench and did really well against Tonga," Townsend said.

"And he was unlucky to miss out last week against the country where he was born, so we think the style of his play can really test our opposition this week."

Scotland (15-1)

Stuart Hogg (capt); Rufus McLean, Chris Harris, Matt Scott, Duhan van der Merwe; Finn Russell, Ali Price; Matt Fagerson, Jamie Ritchie, Nick Haining; Grant Gilchrist, Sam Skinner; Zander Fagerson, Stuart McInally, Pierre Schoeman

Replacements: Ewan Ashman, Jamie Bhatti, Oli Kebble, Jamie Hodgson, Hamish Watson, George Horne, Adam Hastings, Blair Kinghorn

Coach: Gregor Townsend (SCO)


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