It could be all-out attack as Scotland take on Fiji at Murrayfield this weekend – here are all the details you need
Autumn Internationals Scotland v Fiji Preview
Scotland coach Gregor Townsend has described Fiji as “the Brazil of rugby” in the lead-up to Saturday’s game at BT Murrayfield and he knows only too well the attacking threats the islanders possess having seen his side lose 27-22 in Suva in 2017.
Townsend wants his team to play an all-court attacking game but he will be wary of things becoming too loose this weekend because that will play into the hands of the Fijians, who love to launch counter-attacks and take advantage of badly organised defences.
Scotland’s defensive flaws were exposed by Wales last weekend and Fiji have the players to exploit any sign of a gap.
Pete Horne, who starts in Scotland’s midfield on Saturday, is well aware of the talent at Fiji’s disposal: “It’s going to be a hell of a game. They beat us the last time and they’ve got an incredible team. They’ve got so many good players that if they can click on the day they can be a match for anyone. It will be a huge challenge but very exciting.
“Peceli Yato, the back-row from Clermont, is awesome. Leone Nakarawa is certainly the best player I’ve ever played with; I’d probably say he’s the best player in the world. He’s incredible. It’s exciting to have these guys coming to Scotland to play.”
Horne has fond memories of touring Fiji in June 2017, saying: “I have a lot of time for Fiji. When we went out to schools, the reception you got from people was incredible. It’s just such a brilliant place.
“I was blown over by how friendly the people are, how amazing the whole country was.”
Horne and his team-mates will just be hoping they are not blown away by the skill of Fiji’s rugby players on Saturday afternoon.
What’s the big team news?
Gregor Townsend has made a significant nine changes to the starting team that lost to Wales last week, including bringing in Finn Russell and Greig Laidlaw at half-back. The France-based duo were unable to play last week as the Test fell outside the official international window. Laidlaw will captain the side on Saturday.
Elsewhere in the backs, Stuart Hogg returns from an ankle injury to start at full-back, Sean Maitland comes in at wing and Pete Horne has been promoted from the bench to start at inside-centre, with Huw Jones dropping out of the 23.
Up front, Fraser Brown starts at hooker with Stuart McInally moving to the bench, there is a new second-row combination in Grant Gilchrist and Sam Skinner, while Matt Fagerson will wear the No 8 shirt.
Fiji haven’t played since losing to Tonga in June and compared to that side, there are six personnel changes as well as two positional ones.
Vereniki Goneva moves back to his familiar position of wing from centre while Viliame Mata, who has been so impressive for Edinburgh, moves from the second row to No 8.
Semi Radradra comes in at 13 with the other changes in the backs being Setareki Tuicuvu at full-back and Metui Talebula on the wing. The half-back pairing of Ben Volavola and Frank Lomani is retained, with the former going head-to-head with his Racing 92 team-mate Russell.
Up front, Sam Matavesi starts at hooker – his first Test since 2013, Tevita Cavubati is at lock and the dangerous Clermont flanker Peceli Yato is at openside.
Look out for Alivereti Veitokani off the bench, too. The fly-half has won huge plaudits for his performances for Fijian Drua in their National Rugby Championship triumph.
What have the coaches said?
Scotland coach Gregor Townsend: “They pose huge threats off turnover ball, utilising some of the best individual players, one-on-one, in the world.
“We have to be physical and accurate, play to our strengths and put them under pressure in areas they don’t want to go into, to make sure the game is open for us but not for them.”
Fiji coach John McKee: “We approach every Test match with the belief that we can win. We have had success over Scotland at home but it’s important for us to nail some results against Tier One teams away from home.”
Any interesting statistics?
- Fiji have beaten Scotland twice in seven Tests, including their most recent meeting in 2017 (27-22), but both those victories came in Suva.
- Exeter lock Sam Skinner will make his Test debut for Scotland, starting in the second row alongside Grant Gilchrist, and Setareki Tuicuvu earns his first cap for Fiji at full-back.
- Scotland’s starting XV contains 110 more caps than Fiji – 446 to 336 – but Fiji’s pack is more experienced. Fiji’s eight have 221 caps compared to Scotland’s 141.
- In their last five Tests, Scotland have scored 22 tries and Fiji have scored 25, so expect plenty of attacking rugby in Edinburgh!
What time does it kick off and is it on TV?
Saturday 10 November, Scotland v Fiji, BT Murrayfield
The action in Edinburgh kicks off at 2.30pm and the Test is being broadcast live on BBC One.
Who’s the referee?
Ireland’s Andrew Brace has the whistle at Murrayfield, with an English double act as his assistants in Luke Pearce and Karl Dickson. Kiwi Ben Skeen is the TMO.
What are the line-ups?
Scotland: Stuart Hogg; Tommy Seymour, Alex Dunbar, Pete Horne, Sean Maitland; Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw (captain); Allan Dell, Fraser Brown, WP Nel, Sam Skinner, Grant Gilchrist, Ryan Wilson, Jamie Ritchie, Matt Fagerson.
Replacements: Stuart McInally, Alex Allan, Simon Berghan, Jonny Gray, Josh Strauss, George Horne, Adam Hastings, Chris Harris.
Fiji: Setareki Tuicuvu; Metui Talebula, Semi Radradra, Jale Vatabua, Vereniki Goneva; Ben Volavola, Frank Lomani; Campese Ma’afu, Sam Matavesi, Manasa Saulo, Tevita Cavubati, Leone Nakarawa, Dominiko Waqaniburotu (captain), Peceli Yato, Viliame Mata.
Replacements: Mesulame Dolokoto, Eroni Mawi, Kalivate Tawake, Albert Tuisue, Semi Kunatani, Henry Seniloli, Alivereti Veitokani, Eroni Vasiteri.
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