Scotland drop captain while the brothers Gray could unite

Scotland have named their team to face South Africa on Sunday and Interim Head Coach Scott Johnson has made some dramatic changes.

There are six changes to the side that beat Japan with the dropping of the captain, Kelly Brown, the most dramatic of the lot.

He is omitted from the entire 23, with John Barclay replacing him at openside and Johnnie Beattie filling Barclay’s place on the bench. Greig Laidlaw takes over the captaincy at scrum half.

Saracens’ Duncan Taylor is the only change in the backline though, he replaces Matt Scott who has broken a bone in his hand and will miss the rest of the November internationals.

It is in the pack where the big changes have been made, Moray Low replaces Euan Murray, owing to his decision not to play on Sundays for religious reasons, while Alasdair Dickinson is promoted from the bench in place of Ryan Grant at loosehead, Grant drops down to the bench after a head injury last week.

The entire second row is changed, with Richie Gray and Jim Hamilton replacing Tim Swinson and Al Kellock.

Both Swinson and Kellock miss out on selection altogether as Richie Gray’s younger brother Jonny taking the second row berth on the bench. Should Jonny Gray come on he will be making his debut and he and Richie will become 47th set of brothers to play for Scotland – a remarkable tally.

On the bench, Pat MacArthur and Henry Pyrgos are replaced by Scott Lawson and Chris Cusiter, while Max Evans takes the spot vacated by Duncan Taylor’s elevation to the starting XV.

The team certainly looks selected specifically for South Africa, the giant pair of Gray and Hamilton in the second row is clearly designed to help combat the physicality that South Africa has, while the selection of Barclay would appear to be to nullify the threat of Francois Louw and to help generate faster ball.

The worry for Scotland will be in the front row; South Africa are renowned for their scrummaging, with Euan Murray missing on one side, and as Alasdair Dickinson, on the other side, does not have the best reputation at scrum time – though he is an excellent player in the loose – Scotland may find this area a bit of a struggle.

What do you think of the Scotland team? Are they equipped to be able to spring another autumn surprise and beat South Africa?

Should Kelly Brown have been dropped and is the decision to change things so much in the pack a sensible one?

Let us know your thoughts, you can get in touch via Twitter (@FifteenRugbyXV) or comment below.

Scotland XV vs South Africa:

15. Sean Maitland 14. Tommy Seymour 13. Nick De Luca 12. Duncan Taylor 11. Sean Lamont 10. Ruaraidh Jackson 9. Greig Laidlaw (c); 1. Alasdair Dickinson 2. Ross Ford 3. Moray Low 4. Richie Gray 5. Jim Hamilton 6. Alasdair Strokosch 7. John Barclay 8. David Denton.

Replacements: 16. Scott Lawson 17. Ryan Grant 18. Geoff Cross 19. Jonny Gray 20. Johnnie Beattie 21. Chris Cusiter 22. Duncan Weir 23. Max Evans.

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