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Autumn Nations Cup: Jaco van der Walt to make Scotland debut in Ireland

Autumn Nations Cup: Jaco van der Walt to make Scotland debut in Ireland

Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Date: Saturday, 5 December Kick-off: 14:15 GMT
Coverage: Listen to live commentary on BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Sounds; follow live text on the BBC Sport website and app.

Edinburgh fly-half Jaco van der Walt will make his Scotland debut in Saturday’s Autumn Nations Cup third-place play-off in Ireland.

Captain Stuart Hogg, set for his 80th cap, is the most obvious fly-half cover if Van der Walt is injured in the game.

Saracens centre Duncan Taylor will make his first Scotland start since the win against Russia in the 2019 World Cup.

Winger Darcy Graham returns to the side along with Edinburgh team-mate Rory Sutherland, who is at loosehead prop.

Glasgow Warriors tighthead Zander Fagerson also returns to the front row, while there is a positional change in the back row, with Edinburgh flanker Jamie Ritchie moving to the openside in the absence of Hamish Watson and Scarlets’ Blade Thomson starting on the blindside.

Warriors centre Huw Jones, who has been playing full-back this season, and 34-year-old London Irish flanker Blair Cowan are set to make their first appearances of the autumn campaign from the bench.

Glasgow prop Oli Kebble moves to the bench, while Blair Kinghorn, Sam Johnson, Duncan Weir, Simon Berghan and Watson miss out on the match-day squad.

Head coach Gregor Townsend believes Van der Walt, who qualifies under residency rules after joining Edinburgh from South African side Lions in 2017, has Test match quality.

“We have been impressed with Jaco over the time he has trained with us and we’re excited to see him take the next step into international rugby,” said the former Scotland and Lions fly-half.

“Being able to bring back Rory Sutherland after his recent injury is a real boost and it’s great to involve Blair and Huw for the first time this season.”

Gloucester centre Chris Harris and two Glasgow men – scrum-half Ali Price and lock Scott Cummings – are the only three players to have started every match in Scotland’s 2020 autumn campaign.

“If Blair and Huw get on the field, 39 players will have had opportunities to play over the past five games, which underlines the current player depth throughout Scottish rugby and shows the competition there is for places,” Townsend added.

“It will be a tough challenge in Ireland given the quality of our opposition.”

Scotland team to face Ireland

Stuart Hogg, capt (Exeter Chiefs); Darcy Graham (Edinburgh), Chris Harris (Gloucester), Duncan Taylor (Saracens), Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh); Jaco van der Walt (Edinburgh), Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors); Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh), Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors), Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors); Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors), Jonny Gray (Exeter Chiefs); Blade Thomson (Scarlets), Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh), Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors).

Replacements: Stuart McInally (Edinburgh), Oli Kebble (Glasgow Warriors), Willem Nel (Edinburgh), Sam Skinner (Exeter Chiefs), Blair Cowan (London Irish), Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (Exeter Chiefs), Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors), Sean Maitland (Saracens).

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Source: BBC

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