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Cotter hands captaincy to Gilchrist

Scotland head coach Vern Cotter has taken the surprising step of naming lock Grant Gilchrist as his captain for the Test against Argentina on Friday.

The 23-year-old Edinburgh lock has been handed the role despite having played only six Tests and never having captained his club.

Given that most of the team that started last week against Canada returned home after the game, there are inevitably abundant changes with only four of the starting 15 from the Toronto match able to keep their places.

They are Peter Horne, Sean Maitland, Stuart Hogg and Gilchrist, with the quartet joined by another three who were involved off the bench last week in Blair Cowan, Kieran Low and Grayson Hart. The seven are joined in the starting line-up for the tussle in Cordoba by eight players that flew directly to Argentina from Scotland.

While there are no new caps, three of the side, Hart at scrum-half, Low out of position at number eight, and Jonny Gray at lock, will be making their first international starts.

For Cotter it was important to create as much continuity as he could by using as many players as possible from the first part of the tour, and that included the choice of making Gilchrist captain.

"He has impressed me with his leadership qualities," Cotter said.

"He's already calling the line-outs and he's been part of this tour right from the outset, which is important for continuity from the first two games. He leads by example. Some captains are more at ease talking and organising whereas Gilcho [Gilchrist] is more adept at just getting on with it."

Discussing the appointment, Gilchrist said: "It's a huge honour, one I'm really looking forward to.

"For me it's a boyhood dream. Of course there's massive responsibility, not just to this team, but to the entire country and Scotland fans throughout the world, but I'm really excited by it."

For the second week running the match also marks a cap landmark. Last week it was Sean Lamont becoming the second highest Scotland caps holder on 88, and this week it is Ross Ford becoming the most capped Scotland hooker on 76, overtaking Gordon Bulloch.

Despite Scotland's scrappy performance last week and Argentina impressing in going down only narrowly to Ireland, Cotter remains upbeat, though wary of the opposition.

"What we've seen has been a desire to play," Cotter said. "Mistakes have crept in because we haven't spent much time together. I've been pleased with the energy and desire to score tries but not happy with the execution.

"I've shown the [video] clips to the new players and I'm looking to them to bring that same energy and desire to carry the ball and secure opportunities and hopefully fresh legs can help. I need to see what players are doing. We have to show teeth. We have to be able to attack from anywhere and we have to be able to dictate the pace and tempo of games. It's a challenge.

"Argentina have to prepare for their Four Nations and they were much better in their second game against Ireland than in their first and they'll be looking for that same progression into the game against us. They've had Graham Henry involved with them and you can see a bit more width and variety in their attacking game. We're in for a very tough Test match."

Scotland team to play Argentina:

S Hogg (Glasgow Warriors); S Maitland (Glasgow Warriors), N De Luca (Edinburgh), P Horne (Glasgow Warriors), T Seymour (Glasgow Warriors); D Weir (Glasgow Warriors), G Hart (Edinburgh); A Dickinson (Edinburgh), R Ford (Edinburgh), G Cross (Glasgow Warriors), J Gray (Glasgow Warriors), G Gilchrist (captain, Edinburgh), R Harley (Glasgow Warriors), B Cowan (London Irish), K Low (London Irish).

Replacements: P MacArthur (Glasgow Warriors), G Reid (Glasgow Warriors), J Welsh (Glasgow Warriors), T Swinson (Glasgow Warriors), C Fusaro (Glasgow Warriors), H Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors), T Heathcote (Bath), D Fife (Edinburgh).

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