Vern Cotter makes 10 changes to Scotland side for USA

Henry Pyrgos leads side at Elland Road as entire bench from Japan game promoted

Henry Pyrgos will lead out Scotland at Elland Road for Sunday's World Cup clash with the United States after the Dark Blues made 10 changes to their starting line-up.

The Scots crushed Japan in Gloucester on Wednesday but with just four days' rest, head coach Vern Cotter has decided to freshen up his side for their second Pool B fixture in Leeds.

The entire bench used against the Brave Blossoms has been promoted to the starting XV, meaning number eight Josh Strauss will make his first start for his adopted nation just a week after qualifying on residency grounds.

Pyrgos, who captained the team against Ireland last month and scored twice during the summer warm-up Tests, is back as skipper and partners stand-off Finn Russell, who retains his place alongside full-back Stuart Hogg, centre Mark Bennett, lock Grant Gilchrist and flanker John Hardie.


Cotter said: “We said from the start that we’d need the whole group of 31 players for this campaign.

“We’ve known this schedule for a long time and have tried to keep continuity in selection, while also introducing fresh legs to what will be another very physical challenge this Sunday.”

Bennett, who scored twice against Japan, will line-up alongside Peter Horne in the midfield as Matt Scott drops to the bench, while Tim Visser and Sean Maitland start on the wings in place of Sean Lamont and Tommy Seymour.

In the pack Ryan Grant, Fraser Brown and Jon Welsh make a straight swap for front-row colleagues Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford and Willem Nel.

Lock Richie Gray takes over from brother Jonny and in the back-row, Al Strokosch and Strauss come in for Ryan Wilson and David Denton.

Cotter added: “I was pleased with both the commitment and composure against Japan, particularly towards the end of the game, however we are always working and looking for things on which to improve.

“Hopefully we’ll see the result of that this Sunday in another very important Test match in our pool.”

Scotland: Stuart Hogg, Sean Maitland, Mark Bennett, Peter Horne, Tim Visser, Finn Russell, HenryPyrgos (c); Ryan Grant, Fraser Brown, Jon Welsh, Richie Gray, Grant Gilchrist, Alasdair Strokosch, John Hardie, Josh Strauss.

Replacements: Ross Ford, Alasdair Dickinson, Willem Nel, Tim Swinson, Ryan Wilson, Greig Laidlaw, Duncan Weir, Matt Scott.