Autumn International: Scotland face Japan at Murrayfield

Last updated: 9th November 2013  

 Scott Johnson - Scotland coach

Scott Johnson: Expecting Japan to provide a tough challenge

Kelly Brown Scotland

Kelly Brown: Saracens back-rower returns to skipper Scotland

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Kelly Brown is back to lead Scotland as they kick off their autumn international series against Japan on Saturday at Murrayfield.

The Saracens back-row had to leave the summer tour of South Africa with a leg injury but he is restored to a starting line-up in one of six changes to the team which started in the 30-29 victory against Italy in Pretoria in June.

Sean Maitland, Nick De Luca, Ruaridh Jackson, Ryan Grant and Ross Ford join Brown in the starting XV.

Two players who made their debuts in the summer, Glasgow Warriors stars Tommy Seymour and Tim Swinson, will make their first starts.

De Luca returns to international rugby for the first time since last November, having missed the Six Nations and summer tour through injury.

Interim coach Scott Johnson insists all of his players are now under pressure to perform with the World Cup now very much in his mind.

"We are looking to the future and we're also looking at people's futures too," he said. "This selection is a first chance for some to put their hand up. We have a 22-month campaign pre-World Cup and one of the mantras is 'this could be your last Test match'.

"It's not a right to play for your country. You have to go out there and perform. It's important that these guys who have got the jerseys go out and perform."

"For the likes of Tommy Seymour, this is his chance with Tim Visser being out. But it's only a chance. No-one has a divine right to start."

Formidable

Johnson described Japan - conquerors of Wales during the summer - as a "formidable" team who have improved by leaps and bounds in recent years.

He added: "Saturday is a good chance for the players to show their wares. Japan are well-coached, have a great work ethic and really good knowledge of rugby now."

Scott Wisemantel again takes charge of Japan with Eddie Jones still recovering from a minor stroke he suffered last month.

Wisemantel's first game at the helm was a heavy 54-6 defeat last weekend against world champions New Zealand.

The Brave Blossoms - who will host the 2019 World Cup - topped the Asian Five Nations and caused a stir when beating an under-strength Wales 23-8 in Tokyo in June.

However, they have never won a Test match against a Six Nations side in Europe and have suffered three previous defeats against the Scots.

For his part, Johnson described Japan as a "formidable" team who have improved markedly in recent years and warned his players to expect a tough encounter.

"Saturday is a good chance for the players to show their wares. Japan are well-coached, have a great work ethic and really good knowledge of rugby now," he added.

Scotland: S Maitland, T Seymour, N De Luca, M Scott, S Lamont, R Jackson, G Laidlaw; R Grant, R Ford, E Murray, T Swinson, A Kellock, A Strokosch, K Brown (c), D Denton.

Replacements: P MacArthur, A Dickinson, G Cross, R Gray, J Barclay, H Pyrgos, D Weir, D Taylor.

Japan: A Goromaru; T Hirose (c), M Sau, C Wing, K Fukuoka, K Ono, F Tanaka; R Koliniasi Holani, M Broadhurst, H Tui; S Makabe, L Thompson; K Hatakeyama, S Horie, M Mikami.

Replacements: Y Aoki, Y Nagae, H Yamashita, H Ono, T Kikutani, A Hiwasa, Y Tamura, Y Fujita.