John Bishop

2013-06-14 00:00

SCOTLAND’S physical battering at the hands of the Samoans in Durban at the weekend had its sequel yesterday when coach Scott Johnson was forced to make seven changes to the side for the Test against the Springboks.

Scotland will field three new caps for tomorrow evening’s Incoming Series international in Nelspruit and Johnson admitted his resources had been stretched to the limit.

“I’m hard-pressed to remember so many injuries from the one Test match, but it’s a fact and we just have to get on with it,” he said yesterday.

The new caps are fullback Peter Murchie, wing Tommy Seymour and lock Tim Swinson.

Fly half Ruaridh Jackson takes the place of Tom Heathcote and Scott Lawson comes in at hooker for the injured Pat MacArthur, who has returned home. Ryan Wilson replaces injured flank and captain Kelly Brown and lock Jim Hamilton is in for Alastair Kellock.

Scrumhalf Greig Laidlaw takes over the captaincy from Brown.

“I’d said from before we left Scotland that we wanted to find out about players through this tour and, perhaps because of circumstances, some of that is being accelerated.

“But there’s no doubt for me that our three new caps have had strong seasons for Glasgow and have worked really diligently on the training fields out here to earn their chance.”

The Boks made just two changes on Wednesday — one at flank and the other at scrumhalf. Marcell Coetzee takes over from Francois Louw and Ruan Pienaar, Heyneke Meyer’s first-choice scrumhalf, takes over from the injured Jano Vermaak.

The most significant change is on the bench where Bismarck du Plessis is back after a 10-month injury break, taking over from Chiliboy Ralepelle.

Meyer says that Ralepelle’s decision to leave South Africa and play for Toulouse in France later this year was the deciding factor in selection, though he was obviously keen to have the world-class Du Plessis back in harness.

“Bismarck was probably the best hooker in the world before he got injured, and Adriaan Strauss got a chance and he played well,” Meyer said.

“I had a hard chat with Chiliboy and he is playing his best rugby. But I also want to see what Bismarck can do and going forward we need to pick the best hookers.

“It is unfortunate that Chili is going overseas. I’ve always said if it is a 50/50 decision, we will go with the guy in South Africa.”

An excited Bismarck du Plessis said he was anxious to push for a place in the starting line-up.

“If I get just one minute on Saturday, I’ll try and squeeze in 80 [minutes of action]. You only have so many games to play. You can’t pick and choose the games,” Du Plessis said.

“Whether at the Sharks or at the Springboks, I am going to push for a place to start.”

There is keen rivalry for the hooking berth and Du Plessis welcomed the challenge.

“Competition is always a good thing, and if there is no competition you rest on your laurels,” he said.

“Adriaan is playing good rugby and Chili has been playing exceptional rugby for the Bulls, and I want to get back into the Sharks 22 and to push for a place in the Springbok side again,” said Du Plessis.

Scotland: 15 Peter Murchie, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Alex Dunbar, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Sean Lamont, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Greig Laidlaw (captain), 8 Johnnie Beattie, 7 Ryan Wilson, 6 Alasdair Strokosch, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Alasdair Dickinson Replacements: 16 Stevie Lawrie, 17 Jon Welsh, 18 Moray Low, 19 Alastair Kellock, 20 David Denton, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Peter Horne, 23 Duncan Taylor

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