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Johnson brings in new faces

Interim Scotland coach Scott Johnson has wasted no time in keeping his promise to start developing players for the next Rugby World Cup.

Johnson has named three uncapped players and two that have yet to play a full 80 minutes of international rugby in the side to face the formidable challenge of Samoa in the opening Test of their tour of South Africa.

"It is a perfect opportunity for us to see these guys in Test footie. They are in key positions where we need to increase our depth," Johnson said.

"We are mindful of the fact that we probably have only 25 Test matches available to us prior to the World Cup and this is the start of that campaign. We are not going to give jerseys away but we have to understand what is in our squad. We can't be exposed to injury issues, and the best way to prevent that is to give kids opportunities."

Most of the changes were predictable, the biggest surprise being the decision to give Bath's Tom Heathcote his first Test start at fly-half after winning his only other cap as a late replacement against Tonga last year.

Lock Grant Gilchrist will also be making only his second start after playing 50 minutes in Scotland's final RBS Six Nations match against France, although there is plenty of experience in the back row and on the wings, where Tim Visser and Sean Lamont line up.

Glasgow Warriors centre Alex Dunbar is among the trio of newcomers alongside Greig Tonks at full-back, replacing Stuart Hogg who is on Lions duty, and hooker Pat MacArthur, whose selection became inevitable once Ross Ford dropped out last week.

Johnson added: "Tom [Heathcote] showed a great deal of loyalty to us at a young age and this is a good chance for him. Tonks is a left-footer and I have to see if his skills hold up at this level. Alex Dunbar's form at a regional level has been superb and he has earned that right."

Team: G Tonks (Edinburgh); S Lamont (Glasgow), A Dunbar (Glasgow), M Scott (Edinburgh), T Visser (Edinburgh); T Heathcote (Bath), G Laidlaw (Edinburgh); R Grant (Glasgow), P MacArthur (Glasgow), E Murray (Worcester), G Gilchrist (Edinburgh), A Kellock (Glasgow), A Strokosch (Perpignan), K Brown (Saracens), J Beattie (Montpellier).

Replacements: S Lawrie (Edinburgh), A Dickinson (Sale), G Cross (Edinburgh), J Hamilton (Gloucester), R Wilson (Glasgow), H Pyrgos (Glasgow), P Horne (Glasgow), D Taylor (Saracens).


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