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Wales & Scotland name teams for South Africa & Japan

Wales and Scotland have named their starting XV’s for their opening Autumn Internationals on Saturday against South Africa and Japan respectively.

Ospreys star Eli Walker will make his debut on the wing for Wales, the 21 year old was due to make his debut last Six Nations but injury ruled him out.

He replaces the injured Alex Cuthbert with Leigh Halfpenny at full back and Walker’s former age grade wing partner George North on the opposite wing.

The in form Scott Williams fills the Jamie Roberts shaped hole in the midfield. The bulldozing centre will be feeling an air of familiarity; his Jonathan Davies joins him in the centres while Rhys Priestland starts at fly half, forming an all Scarlets midfield.

Mike Phillips starts at scrum half despite the controversy surrounding him following his sacking by Bayonne. He will be under pressure to perform not just for Wales but also to find someone to employ him after these internationals are over.

In the forwards the Welsh Lions all start in the front row, Gethin Jenkins, Richard Hibbard, and Adam Jones. Behind them Alun Wyn Jones, the Lions captain for that brilliant 3rd Test in Australia, starts alongside Bradley Davies, who is in for the injured Ian Evans.

In the back row Justin Tipuric again has to make do with a place on the bench as the classy trio of Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton, and Toby Faletau all start. Joining Tipuric on the bench is James Hook who will be desperate to impress as he bids to regain a Welsh starting XV jersey.

Scotland, like Wales, are looking fairly settled and have a fairly familiar feel to most of their team. They have made room for two home debutants though in wing Tommy Seymour and second row Tim Swinson.

Seymour gets his start after Stuart Hogg’s injury sees Sean Maitland move to full back, while Tim Vissers absence through injury sees Sean Lamont start on the left wing.

Matt Scott and Nick De Luca continue their promising and developing international centre partnership. Scott in particular has shown hints of developing into a very useful player indeed for his country.

Ruaraidh Jackson is rewarded for his fine form with Glasgow with a starting spot at fly half, his club understudy, Duncan Weir, is one the bench. Partnering Jackson is Edinburgh’s captain and inspiration Greig Laidlaw. The tenacious scrum half will almost certainly also have the kicking duties.

In the front row Scotland have three British and Irish Lions, Ryan Grant from the 2013 tour and 2009 veterans Ross Ford and Euan Murray.

The second row is likely to be the most talked about part of the Scotland side. Tim Swinson makes his first Murrayfield start and he is joined by his Glasgow clubmate Alastair Kellock.

Their selection means that Scotland’s star man in recent seasons, Richie Gray, can only manage a bench place. If rumours are to be believed though, it is another Glasgow man that could finish the Autumn as Scotland’s star lock; Gray’s younger brother Jonny.

If the second row is starting to look like a real area of strength for Scotland though then the back row possibly looks even stronger. Kelly Brown once again captains the side from the openside, with Alasdair Strokosch at six. David Denton starts at 8.

The strength of that back row is shown in those that do not make it though, John Barclay sits on the bench while Johnnie Beattie and Chris Fusaro do not make the 23.

There is no doubt that Scotland will be expecting to come away with a victory and a strong performance against Japan as they prepare for tougher challenges in the weeks to come.

Wales meanwhile will be desperate to get a victory over Southern Hemisphere opposition after a disappointing Autumn in 2012. It will be difficult against South Africa, the second best side in the world, but with so many Lions in their ranks Wales will be confident.

Kick Offs:

Scotland v Japan: Saturday, 14.30 BBC One Scotland

Wales v South Africa: Saturday, 17.30 BBC Two

Wales XV:

15. Leigh Halfpenny, 14. George North, 13. Jonathan Davies, 12. Scott Williams, 11. Eli Walker, 10. Rhys Priestland, 9. Mike Phillips; 1. Gethin Jenkins, 2. Richard Hibbard, 3. Adam Jones, 4. Bradley Davies, 5. Alun Wyn Jones, 6. Dan Lydiate, 7. Sam Warburton (Captain), 8. Toby Faletau (Dragons).

Replacements: 16. Ken Owens, 17. Paul James, 18. Scott Andrews, 19. Luke Charteris, 20. Justin Tipuric, 21. Lloyd Williams, 22. James Hook, 23. Liam Williams.

Scotland XV:

15. Sean Maitland, 14. Tommy Seymour, 13. Nick De Luca, 12. Matt Scott, 11. Sean Lamont, 10. Ruaridh Jackson, 9. Greig Laidlaw; 1. Ryan Grant, 2. Ross Ford, 3. Euan Murray, 4. Tim Swinson, 5. Alastair Kellock, 6. Alasdair Strokosch, 7. Kelly Brown (Captain), 8. David Denton.

Replacements: 16. Pat MacArthur, 17. Alasdair Dickinson, 18. Geoff Cross, 19. Richie Gray, 20. John Barclay, 21. Henry Pyrgos, 22. Duncan Weir, 23. Duncan Taylor.

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