Match Preview: Hogg to captain Scotland for the first time

Stuart Hogg 10/3/2018
Despite Scotland’s impressive victory over Canada in their first summer Test, Gregor Townsend has warned that his team must improve when they face the United States on Saturday.

Despite Scotland’s impressive victory over Canada in their first summer Test, Gregor Townsend has warned that his team must improve when they face the United States on Saturday.

Townsend has made 12 changes to his starting line-up for the match in Houston, as Stuart Hogg comes in as captain for the first time, while George Horne and Matt Fagerson will see their debuts alongside their brothers.

Hogg starts at full-back, having helped Scotland earlier this year to their best finish in the NatWest 6 Nations since 2013 by making 134 metres more with the ball in hand than anybody else in the Championship.

Blair Kinghorn moves over to the wing to replace Lee Jones, while the back three is completed with Byron McGuigan on the other touchline after he scored against Canada last week.

In midfield, Pete Horne is partnered by Nick Grigg, who saw his NatWest 6 Nations debut for Scotland when he came on in the historic triumph over England.

The younger of the Horne brothers, George, will make his debut for Scotland at scrum-half, while Adam Hastings replaces Ruaridh Jackson at fly-half to pull the strings.

In the pack, Jamie Bhatti and Zander Ferguson start either side of hat-trick hero from last week Fraser Brown, who also touched down in the final NatWest 6 Nations match against Italy.

Ben Toolis is the only forward that will start again following the win in Vancouver, as he’s joined by Lewis Carmichael in the engine room, who scored from the bench in his debut last week.

The back row consists of the experienced Tim Swinson, another younger brother and debutant in Matt Fagerson, and Luke Hamilton, who will earn his third cap for Scotland.

Saturday’s match will see the Fagerson and Horne brothers become the 48th and 49th brothers to play for Scotland, and the 22nd and 23rd pair of brothers to play together in the same Test match.

It will be only the eighth time in close to 700 Scotland Tests when two sets of brothers have been on the field at the same time, joining the Evans and Lamont brothers (2010), Bulloch and Leslie brothers (2001), Milne and Hastings brothers (1990), and the Neilson and Orr brothers, who did so four times (1891-1892).

What they said

Scotland Head Coach Gregor Townsend said: “We always planned to play as much of the squad as possible on this tour, and we also deliberately picked more Edinburgh players in the first game because their season finished earlier.

“Now we welcome most of the Glasgow Warriors contingent into the team. On top of that there are seven players making their first starts for the country, which is really exciting, and we are looking forward to them going out and grabbing this opportunity.

“It’s great to have people like Stuart Hogg, Peter Horne and Tim Swinson back, leaders in that team. Hogg will love being captain, I mentioned a couple of weeks back that this might happen and he was very excited at the prospect, he’s really taken to the leadership role.

“We were pleased with a number of aspects from the Canada game, especially the second half – our fitness, the way the bench made an impact. But we know there are a number of aspects we have to improve.

“We definitely have to improve this week because the challenge we face is a really strong one in the USA team.

“You can see in the way they attack and defend that they are well coached, added to which there are some exceptional individuals that offer running threats throughout their side, so this will be a real test for us on Saturday.”


A few familiar faces will line up against the Scots at BBVA Compass Stadium on Saturday, including Sale fly-half AJ MacGinty, Worcester Warriors props Andrew Durutalo and Joseph Taufete’e, Cardiff Blues’ winger Blaine Scully, and Toulon’s Samu Manoa.

MacGinty will be pulling the strings, having plied his trade in Ireland with Connacht for whom he made 13 appearances and kicked a combined 16 points in the PRO12 semi-final and final as Pat Lam’s boys completed a dream season and won the title for the first time in their history.

With these individuals, USA have been on the rise and have found form that has seen them overcome Russia, Chile and Canada, while going all the way with Argentina last year to draw against the Pumas.

Key stat

USA have gone undefeated in 2018, winning their last six games, including 60-point victories over World Cup qualifiers Uruguay and Russia

Scotland team to face USA:

15. Stuart Hogg (c) (Glasgow Warriors) – 60 caps 14. Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh) – 3 caps 13. Nick Grigg (Glasgow Warriors) – 4 caps 12. Pete Horne (Glasgow Warriors) – 33 caps 11. Byron McGuigan (Sale Sharks) – 4 caps 10. Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors) – 1 cap 9. George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) – uncapped 1. Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors) – 9 caps 2. George Turner (Glasgow Warriors) – 3 caps 3. Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) – 16 caps 4. Lewis Carmichael (Edinburgh) – 1 cap 5. Ben Toolis (Edinburgh) – 10 caps 6. Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors) – 36 caps 7. Luke Hamilton (unattached) – 2 caps 8. Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) – uncapped

Replacements: 16. Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) – 32 caps 17. Allan Dell (Edinburgh) – 11 caps 18. Murray McCallum (Edinburgh) – 2caps 19. Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh) – 23 caps 20. David Denton (Leicester Tigers) – 40 caps 21. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (Scarlets) – 10 caps 22. Mark Bennett (Edinburgh) – 21 caps 23. Dougie Fife (Edinburgh) – 6 caps