Preview: Scotland v Fiji

A clash of styles will be on show when Scotland welcome Fiji to Murrayfield on Saturday as they look to bounce back from their defeat in their opening Autumn international against Wales.

A clash of styles will be on show when Scotland welcome Fiji to Murrayfield on Saturday as they look to bounce back from their defeat in their opening Autumn international against Wales.

Gregor Townsend has made nine changes to the side that went down 21-10 in Cardiff last time out, with Stuart Hogg making a surprise return after being passed fit to start.

The Glasgow full-back had ankle surgery eight weeks ago and was expected to be out for 10-12 weeks, but he has made a rapid recovery and is back for Scotland’s second autumn Test.

He is not the only big name to be welcomed back by Townsend, though, with Sean Maitland, Finn Russell and Greig Laidlaw also named in the starting XV after missing the Wales game.

Exeter Chiefs lock Sam Skinner has also been handed his debut alongside Grant Gilchrist, while Fraser Brown comes in at hooker as Stuart McInally moves to the bench.

Fiji defeated Scotland the last time the two sides came face-to-face in 2017 and they will be hoping for a repeat performance in their first match of the autumn series.

Campese Maafu, Sam Matavesi and Manasa Saulo will spearhead the forward back, with Racing 92’s Neone Nakarawa and Newcastle Falcons’ Tevita Caubati making up the tight five.

Viliame Mata, newly appointed captain Dominiko Waqaniburotu and Peceli Yato complete a dynamic back row, while Setareki Tuicuvu earning his debut at full back.

Vereniki Goneva and Metui Talebula provide plenty of attacking threat on the wings, with Jale Vatabua and Semi Radradra looking to impose themselves in the midfield.

Scotland v Fiji, BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Saturday 10 November 2.30pm GMT

Gregor Townsend (Scotland head coach) said: “It’s a more experienced side this week in terms of time together at this level, while we’ve rewarded some of those who performed well off the bench with the chance to start.

“We’ve had a good week in training with a slightly different focus for the challenges we expect Fiji to present this Saturday.

“In particular, they pose huge threats off turnover ball, utilising some of the best individual players, one-on-one, in the world.”

John McKee (Fiji head coach) said: ““The team are very much looking forward to the challenge against Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday.

“We had success against Scotland in 2017 in Fiji but that counts for nothing here. We will have to bring our best game if we want to achieve success, as anything less will not be good enough against this good Scotland team.

“Training this week has been good in preparation for this important Test match against Scotland. The team can take confidence from our trainings and must now step up to impose our game plan under the intensity of Test match rugby.”

Key Battle: Backline

While Scotland will be hoping to have the upper hand in the set piece, they will need to be very careful about being hit on the counter attack if Fiji win turnover ball.

The tourists possess a backline that possess danger everywhere you look – Goneva, in particular, regularly causes defences problems in the Premiership for Newcastle Falcons.

Townsend is certainly aware of what Fiji can do, describing them as “the equivalent of Brazil in football” and saying they will “pose huge threats off turnover ball.”

If Scotland can limit the impact of Fiji’s individual talents, who Townsend believes are among the best in the world, and avoid being left one-on-one then they can deliver another win at Murrayfield.

Stat watch

– Fiji beat Scotland 27-22 in their last meeting, in Suva, in June 2017

– Scotland and Fiji have played each other a total of seven times, with Scotland winning five (including their 2003 clash in the Rugby World Cup) and losing twice

– Greg Laidlaw will make his first Scotland outing since the final match of the 2018 Six Nations against Italy and will lead the team for the first time under Townsend

– Scotland have won eight of their past nine matches at Murrayfield, their only defeat coming against New Zealand

Scotland: 15. Stuart Hogg, 14. Tommy Seymour, 13. Alex Dunbar, 12. Pete Horne, 11. Sean Maitland, 10. Finn Russell, 9. Greig Laidlaw (captain); 1. Allan Dell, 2. Fraser Brown, 3. Willem Nel, 4. Sam Skinner, 5. Grant Gilchrist, 6. Ryan Wilson, 7. Jamie Ritchie, 8. Matt Fagerson Replacements: 16. Stuart McInally, 17. Alex Allan, 18. Simon Berghan, 19. Jonny Gray, 20. Josh Strauss, 21. George Horne, 22. Adam Hastings, 23. Chris Harris

Fiji: 15. Setareki Tuicuvu, 14. Metui Talebula, 13. Semi Radradra, 12. Jale Vatabua, 11. Vereniki Goneva, 10. Ben Volavola, 9. Frank Lomani; 1. Campese Maafu, 2. Sam Matavesi, 3. Manasa Saulo, 4. Tevita Cavubati, 5. Leone Nakarawa, 6. Dominiko Waqaniburotu (captain), 7. Peceli Yato, 8. Viliame Mata Replacements: 16. Mesulame Dolokoto, 17. Eroni Mawi, 18. Kalivate Tawake, 19. Albert Tuisue, 20. Semi Kunatani, 21. Henry Seniloli, 22. Alivereti Veitokani, 23. Eroni Vasiteri