Uncapped Scotland trio start against Italy in warm-up game
‘Irish game was an open, fairly fluid affair but I think the Italy game will be a tighter battle’
Scotland have made 11 changes to the team which lost to Scotland for their match with Italy. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho
Vern Cotter has made a total of 11 changes to his starting line-up following the 28-22 defeat by Ireland last Saturday in the Aviva.
Grant Gilchrist was earlier in the week named as captain of the team for Saturday’s clash in Turin.
“This is another chance to give opportunities to players and allow us to have a good look at our squad” sais head coach Cotter.
“The Irish game was an open, fairly fluid affair for the most part but I think the Italy game will be a tighter battle so we’ll be looking, perhaps, to play a bit differently.
“A lot of players put their hands up last week and we’re expecting the same of this group.”
Scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne and prop Mike Cusack will also make their first international starts as Cotter experiments in the second of Scotland’s four pre-tournament run-outs.
Edinburgh’s McInally has previously been in the squad during his time as a flanker but never featured and will take up position as hooker - Richie Gray partners Gilchrist in the second row while there is an all-new back row.
New Zealander Hardie, who qualifies for Scotland through his Fife-born grandmother, comes in at openside after the 26-year-old signed a short-term contract with the Scottish Rugby Union in a bid to fulfil his World Cup ambitions.
Glasgow wing Hughes, 22, comes in for Tim Visser with Sean Lamont starting on the opposite flank. Greig Tonks moves to full-back after wearing the number 10 jersey in Dublin.
Duncan Weir comes in at outhalf with Matt Scott and the returning Richie Vernon in the centre slots.
Uncapped Edinburgh pair Willem Nel and Damien Hoyland are named on the bench alongside club-mates Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford and Hamish Watson. Jim Hamilton, Peter Horne and Henry Pyrgos, who captained the Scots in Dublin, make up the replacements.
Wasps back Ruaridh Jackson and Glasgow hooker Kevin Bryce, who was called up to the training squad on Monday, are the two players to miss out from the 25-man squad that Cotter named for the game on Tuesday.
Scotland: Greig Tonks; Sean Lamont, Richie Vernon, Matt Scott, Rory Hughes; Duncan Weir, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne; Gordon Reid, Stuart McInally, Mike Cusack; Richie Gray, Grant Gilchrist; Alasdair Strokosch, John Hardie, Adam Ashe.
Replacements: Ross Ford, Alasdair Dickinson, WP Nel, Jim Hamilton, Hamish Watson, Henry Pyrgos, Peter Horne, Damien Hoyland.