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Scotland make five changes for first Test against Japan

Published 16/06/2016

Jonny Gray, right, rejoins brother Richie in Scotland's second row
Jonny Gray, right, rejoins brother Richie in Scotland's second row

Scotland have made five changes from the team which finished off their RBS 6 Nations campaign for the match against Japan on Saturday.

All but one are injury-related with four players unavailable and Jonny Gray returning to the side at lock after missing the last Six Nations match against Ireland in Dublin.

There is one big surprise with Damien Hoyland, the Edinburgh wing, winning the race to take over from Tim Visser, who had dropped out with a hamstring problem. It will be only his second cap and first start.

"I just saw my name up on the screen, just paused, looked for a bit and thought quickly about when I first started playing rugby and my ambitions to represent Scotland," Hoyland said.

"Now it is actually happening - I am getting my first start and I can't believe it. It is very, very surreal. It will definitely be emotional. I don't like to cry, so I will be holding it in, I imagine. I have to keep my head down, try not to get caught up in it too much and just focus on the game."

Fly-half Duncan Weir, who started in Ireland, was not included in the tour squad and Finn Russell suffered a bad facial wound playing for Glasgow in the Guinness PRO12 semi-final against Connacht, so Ruaridh Jackson will start against Japan.

Vern Cotter said: "I thought 'Jacko' did some good things during the Six Nations and deserved an opportunity to turn out at 10.

"Damien Hoyland also gets a run on the wing. It is exciting to see talent come through the ranks and push for a place in the starting team.

"He was with us pre-World Cup and trained well. He kicked on from there, credit to him. He could have sat back and been disappointed but he did the right thing, worked hard and improved his game.

"He is with us now and it's a great opportunity for him. He has a lot to work on but he has good feet and does score tries, he is a good attacking player as we have seen through sevens. He will provide line breaks and give us go-forward."

Matt Scott comes in for Alex Dunbar at centre while hooker Ross Ford has a tight calf muscle and drops out with Stuart McInally coming in as his replacement.

Cotter is full of respect for the pace and style Japan bring to the game.

"They have shown they have depth in their squad. They have had a number of injuries but with a number of changes managed to beat Canada in Canada. They are a team that plays with confidence," he said.

"They have a certain way of playing that is effective. Once they get over the gain line they take the ball close to the advantage line, work both sides of the rucks and can move the ball out wide. They are hard to get the ball off because they are very quick to breakdowns - they are a fast, mobile team, we know that."

The match at Toyota City will kick off at 1120BST on Saturday.

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