Gray to face All Blacks
Tue, 06 Nov 2012 11:50
Scotland lock Richie Gray was included in the starting XV to face world champions New Zealand at Murrayfield on Sunday, subject to passing a fitness test on an ankle injury.
Scotland were the most successful of all the 'Home Nations' during their respective southern hemisphere tours earlier this year, upsetting the odds to beat Australia before defeating Fiji and then scraping a win over Samoa.
Head coach Andy Robinson has made five changes to the starting XV from the 17-16 victory over Samoa in Apia in June.
Jim Hamilton, who missed the tour because of disciplinary problems incurred while playing for Gloucester, returned to partner star lock Gray in the second row while fit-again loose forward Kelly Brown was recalled for his 50th cap and first as Scotland captain.
In the backs, centre Nick de Luca and scrumhalf Mike Blair replace the injured pair of Joe Ansbro and Chris Cusiter respectively while Geoff Cross came in for tighthead prop Euan Murray, unavailable because his religious beliefs prevent him playing on a Sunday.
A sell-out crowd of 67,144 is expected to see Scotland make their latest bid for a first victory over New Zealand and Robinson urged his side to follow the example of Australia, who ended the All Blacks' run of 16 straight Test wins with an 18-18 draw in Brisbane last month.
"For our first game of the season we will really need to start well and keep the game simple," said Robinson.
"New Zealand are the world champions and they perform the basic skills, well, under the highest pressure," former England flank and coach Robinson added.
"We need to step up from the (European) summer tour and be ready to go toe to toe in a physical contest, just as Australia did most recently against New Zealand in Brisbane."
New Zealand are due to name their team on Friday.
Scotland have never beaten the All Blacks in 28 Tests spread across 107 years, with their best results coming in the contrasting Murrayfield draws of 1964 (0-0) and 1983 (25-25).
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Lamont, 13 Nick de Luca, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Greig Laidlaw, 9 Mike Blair, 8 Kelly Brown (captain), 7 Ross Rennie, 6 Alasdair Strokosch, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Geoff Cross, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Ryan Grant.
Replacements: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Allan Jacobsen, 18 Kyle Traynor, 19 Alastair Kellock, 20 David Denton, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Ruaridh Jackson.
Date: Sunday, November 11
Venue: Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Kick-off: 14.30 GMT
Referee: Jérôme Garces (France)
Assistant referees: Pascal Gauzere (France), Simon McDowell (Ireland)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)
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