Schoeman and Hodgson to debut against Tonga
Edinburgh Rugby duo Pierre Schoeman and Jamie Hodgson both make their international debuts as two of 10 capital stars named in the Scotland squad to face Tonga at BT Murrayfield this Saturday (30 October, kick-off 2.30pm)
The pack pairing are two of four Edinburgh Rugby debutants selected in the 23-man squad with back-row Luke Crosbie and lock Marshall Sykes both named among the replacements.
Blair Kinghorn is named at stand-off - continuing his positional switch at club level - while Darcy Graham is selected at full-back for the first time in his senior international career.
In the pack, debutants Schoeman and Hodgson are both named in the tight-five, while Hamish Watson returns from injury - making his first appearance since featuring for the British & Irish Lions in the summer - to be selected alongside Jamie Ritchie in the back-row.
Crosbie and Sykes are both named among the replacements and will make their international debuts if called upon, with hooker Stuart McInally and back-row Nick Haining also selected on the bench.
Scotland will be represented by Co-Captains for the first time as Ritchie and Glasgow Warrior's Ali Price both lead the team.
The game, live on Amazon Prime, will also see Scotland field four uncapped players in the starting XV, two in the backs and two in the forwards.
Edinburgh flyer Graham starts at full-back and is joined in the back three by Glasgow duo Kyle Steyn, who will add to his single cap won against France in the last match at BT Murrayfield played in front of crowds in March 2020, and Rufus McLean who will make his first Scotland start.
Joining Mclean on Scotland debut will be clubmate Sione Tuipulotu who lines up with fellow Glasgow Warrior Sam Johnson as the centre partnership.
Co-Captain and Lions scrum-half Price teams up with Edinburgh’s Kinghorn at fly-half to form a brand new half-back pairing.
In the pack fellow British & Irish Lions Zander Fagerson starts at tighthead prop with Watson at openside flanker, as they feature for Scotland for the first time since the South Africa tour this summer.
Edinburgh Rugby’s Ritchie, also named as Co-Captain, packs down on the blindside of the scrum which is anchored by Glasgow Warriors’ Matt Fagerson at number eight.
Youth and experience combine in the second row which sees Rob Harley earn his 23rd cap for Scotland and joined by Edinburgh lock Hodgson, who will win his first cap.
Up front George Turner starts at hooker with Fagerson and with a debutant on the loose-head side in Edinburgh Rugby’s Schoeman.
Former Scotland Captain McInally is available off the bench alongside Glasgow props Jamie Bhatti and Oli Kebble in the front row, with backrow forward Haining of Edinburgh completing the matchday squad.
Scotland Head Coach Gregor Townsend said: “As a playing and coaching group we are looking forward to returning to international rugby over the coming four weeks in the Autumn Nations Series.
“This week has been our first opportunity since the Six Nations to come together as a team, and our goal is to become a better team over the next month. Saturday will also be a huge occasion for a number of players in our squad who have the honour of playing for their country for the first time.”
“Tonga will be very dangerous opponents for us, as they pose a ferocious physical challenge in attack and defence. They performed very well on their last visit to Scotland and I’m sure they will be highly motivated to take the game to us once again.”
Scotland team to face Tonga – Saturday 30 October – kick-off 2:30pm
15. Darcy Graham – Edinburgh Rugby – 19 caps
14. Kyle Steyn – Glasgow Warriors – 1 cap
13. Sione Tuipulotu – Glasgow Warriors – Uncapped
12. Sam Johnson – Glasgow Warriors – 18 caps
11. Rufus McLean – Glasgow Warriors – Uncapped
10. Blair Kinghorn – Edinburgh Rugby – 25 caps
9. Ali Price (cc) – Glasgow Warriors – 42 caps
8. Matt Fagerson – Glasgow Warriors – 13 caps
7. Hamish Watson – Edinburgh Rugby – 41 caps
6. Jamie Ritchie (cc) – Edinburgh Rugby – 27 caps
5. Rob Harley – Glasgow Warriors – 22 caps
4. Jamie Hodgson – Edinburgh Rugby – Uncapped
3. Zander Fagerson – Glasgow Warriors – 38 caps
2. George Turner – Glasgow Warriors – 17 caps
1. Pierre Schoeman – Edinburgh Rugby – Uncapped
16. Stuart McInally – Edinburgh Rugby – 40 caps
17. Jamie Bhatti – Glasgow Warriors – 18 caps
18. Oli Kebble – Glasgow Warriors – 8 caps
19. Marshall Sykes – Edinburgh Rugby – Uncapped
20. Luke Crosbie – Edinburgh Rugby – Uncapped
21. Nick Haining – Edinburgh Rugby – 8 caps
22. Jamie Dobie – Glasgow Warriors – Uncapped
23. Ross Thompson – Glasgow Warriors – Uncapped