Rugby World Cup: Scotland change 13 for Romania as Townsend gives players chance to face Ireland

Ben Healy wins his third cap at fly-half with Finn Russell among those rested
Ben Healy wins his third cap at fly-half with Finn Russell among those rested
Venue: Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille Date: Saturday, 30 September Kick-off: 20:00 BST
Coverage: Full commentary of every game across BBC Radio 5 Live, Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and Radio Scotland, plus text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app.

Saturday’s World Cup meeting with Romania is “absolutely” a chance for Scotland’s much-changed team to stake their claim to face Ireland, says Gregor Townsend.

The head coach has made 13 alterations following Sunday’s 45-17 win against Tonga, with only Kyle Steyn and Chris Harris retained.

Grant Gilchrist will captain the side in Lille while Hamish Watson makes his first appearance of the tournament, along with Luke Crosbie, Ben Healy and Javan Sebastian.

Uncapped hooker Johnny Matthews is among the replacements, having recently been called up. The 30-year-old, who will deputise for Ewan Ashman, was drafted in after Stuart McInally, a late squad addition himself, picked up an injury.

A bonus-point win would move Scotland four points behind group leaders Ireland before the two nations meet in Paris on 7 October.

“Absolutely yeah,” said Townsend when asked about players pushing to face the Irish. “We go a lot on what players have done for us in the past and players have been training well, we know the players are in really good physical shape, but the best way to influence selection is going out there and play well.

“The things we’ll be looking for in terms of playing well is sticking to process, showing huge effort, being really physical and helping the team win. We’re looking to get better than we were against Tonga. This group has the opportunity to do that now.

“Hamish is one of our senior players, he has been a terrific player for Scotland, he’s well loved by the group, coaches and players, just over a year ago he was captain for us in Argentina. To be a regular starter, to be a captain and then to miss out on the 23 for the first two games is obviously tough on him and frustrating.

“This is an opportunity for him to play in the World Cup but also an opportunity to put pressure on the players who have started the first two games and be selected against Ireland.”

Regular captain Jamie Ritchie was not available after failing a head injury assessment during that win on Sunday.

Edinburgh lock Gilchrist makes his 67th international appearance and has led his country before, most recently on the 2022 summer tour of Argentina.

“Grant brings a lot of our emotion,” explained Townsend. “He was vice-captain in the opening game [18-3 loss to South Africa] and he’ll make sure we are primed and ready to go.

“It’s been a bit of a whirlwind for Johnny. The temperature change is probably the biggest shock. He’s a great character, really relaxed, and he knows a lot of the players already. It’s a great game for him to come off the bench and show his strengths. I’m sure he’ll get opportunities to carry.”

Romania lost 76-0 to South Africa and 82-8 to Ireland in their other Pool B outings.

“They are a very proud rugby nation, very strong physically and excellent around set-piece,” Townsend said of the opposition.

“I’m sure they will be stronger for the experience of two tough games against the world number one and two sides right now.

“We can’t take them lightly, but a lot of what we do is about us and the standards we set.”

Scotland: Smith, Graham, Harris, Redpath, Steyn, Healy, Price, Bhatti, Ashman, Sebastian, Skinner, Gilchrist, Crosbie, Watson, M Fagerson.

Replacements: Matthews, Sutherland, Nel, Cummings, Darge, Horne, Kinghorn, Jones.

Watch on iPlayer bannerAcross the BBC footer

Source: BBC News

Previous Post

Gunman kills three in twin Rotterdam shootings – Dutch police

Next Post

Ofcom investigates GB News after 7,300 complaints

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *