Townsend names team for first match of the Autumn Nations Series

Townsend names team for first match of the Autumn Nations Series

Jamie Ritchie will lead Scotland out against Australia this Saturday at BT Murrayfield fresh from being named captain last week for this season’s Autumn Nations Series.

Ritchie has leadership experience with Scotland having co-captained the side last year to victory over Tonga.

He is joined in the back row by Hamish Watson, who led Scotland in their last outing, in the narrow defeat to Argentina in the third Test of the summer tour.

As part of the 23 players named in the matchday squad, which is made up of all home based players due to the match being played outside the designated international window, Matt Fagerson is named at number 8 and in the second row, Grant Gilchrist will partner Sam Skinner.

Fresh from winning his 50th cap in the summer, against Argentina, prop Zander Fagerson will pack down with Pierre Schoeman, either side of hooker Dave Cherry.

In the back division, Blair Kinghorn partners Ali Price at half-back, with Sione Tuipulotu and Mark Bennett selected in the centres.

Wings Darcy Graham and Duhan van der Merwe are joined in the back three by Ollie Smith, who will win his second cap and first at BT Murrayfield. The Ayrshire boy made his debut in Argentina in the third test, in Santiago del Estero.

In the replacements, Glasgow Warriors’ back row Jack Dempsey could make his Scotland debut. The 28-year-old Glasgow Warriors number 8 qualifies for Scotland through his Scottish grandfather. Having previously played 14 matches for Australia, Dempsey has made himself available to play for Scotland under World Rugby’s birthright transfer rules which allows a capped player to switch allegiance to another country they are eligible to play for following a three-year cooling off period.

Glen Young has been named on the bench having been called into the squad after Scott Cummings was ruled out of the Autumn Nations Series having sustained a broken toe in training this week. The towering second-row made his debut for Scotland in the summer and will be eying his first international appearance at BT Murrayfield.

Hooker George Turner and props Jamie Bhatti and WP Nel offer front row expertise from the bench.

Backs George Horne, Ross Thompson and Damien Hoyland, who would win a first cap since 2017, are also all listed as replacement options.

More than 225,000 tickets have been sold so far for this season’s Autumn Nations Series – over 15,000 more than the last year’s record. The New Zealand game is sold out, whilst there are only a few thousand tickets left for Saturday’s match. Both the Fiji and Argentina matches already have more than 50,000 tickets sold.

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