Autumn Internationals: Scotland v Argentina preview
Last Updated: 07/11/14 2:55pm
Scotland head coach Vern Cotter will get his first taste of the Murrayfield atmosphere when Argentina visit the national stadium on Saturday.
The former Clermont boss encouragingly hasn't been shy of making changes to his squad that have seen established figures like Kelly Brown, Max Evans and John Barclay miss out.
Cotter will hope Saturday's game has a better outcome than the last time Scotland ran out, suffering a 55-6 thrashing by South Africa at the end of a June tour that took them across the Americas and finally to Port Elizabeth.
Such a heavy loss, considering it came nearly in July, is perhaps no surprise. Three wins preceded the Springboks' big win as Cotter ran the rule over his players.
Glasgow Warriors' form in the PRO12 and Europe has been first-rate, which is why it's not surprising to see so many of their Scottish players selected for the first Test of the month.
Six of the backline have been picked from Glasgow, including uncapped centre Mark Bennett, with Euan Murray, Jonny Gray, Rob Harley and Adam Ashe in the pack taking the total to 10.
The front row of Al Dickinson, Ross Ford and Murray provide experience, but eight of the starting XV have 10 caps or fewer. The back row of Harley, London Irish's Blair Cowan and Ashe possess 11 in total.
It's a bold, exciting move to give youth a chance so close to the next Rugby World Cup - with backline talents such as Alex Dunbar, Tommy Seymour and Finn Russell asked to shine on the big stage. Greig Laidlaw, captain in the absence of Grant Gilchrist, is there to add experience.
More importantly, eight of the Scotland side that defeated Argentina in Cordoba in June remain.
Rodrigo Baez, Javier Ortega Desio, Nicolas Sanchez and Manuel Montero are the only survivors from five months ago, when Daniel Hourcade rested his big guns before The Rugby Championship.
That elite group would go on to impress in their battles with the top three sides in the world, before that liberating win over Australia which confirmed that Argentina deserve their seat at the top table.
It's impossible to measure the boost in confidence that will have given Hourcade's squad, who are beginning to develop world-class talents.
Sanchez was the tournament's top points scorer and also the best number ten, combining his kicking game with an attacking threat that kept defences guessing.
What's most impressive is that when Argentina did beat Australia, they did it without so many pioneering figures from the last decade. There was no Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, no Juan Manuel Leguiamon. Felipe Contepomi retired in 2013.
The side picked under Hourcade has a fresh, adventurous feel about it not dissimilar to Scotland.
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg; 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 Tommy Seymour; 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw (capt); Alasdair Dickinson, 2 Ross Ford, 3 Euan Murray; 4 Richie Gray, 5 Jonny Gray; 6 Rob Harley, 7 Blair Cowan, 8 Adam Ashe
Replacements: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 Geoff Cross, 19 Jim Hamilton, 20 Alasdair Strokosch, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Duncan Weir, 23 Sean Lamont
Argentina: 15 Joaquin Tuculet; 14 Juan Imhoff, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Juan Martín Hernandez, 11 Manuel Montero; 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Martin Landajo; 1 Marcos Ayerza, 2 Agustin Creevy (capt), 3 Ramiro Herrera; 4 Tomas Lavanini, 5 Juan Cruz Guillemai; 6 Rodrigo Baez, 7 Javier Ortega Desio, 8 Leonardo Senatore
Replacements: 16 Matias Cortese, 17 Lucas Noguera Paz, 18 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 19 Lucas Ponce, 20 Facundo Isa, 21 Tomas Cubelli, 22 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 23 Horacio Agulla
Watch England play New Zealand live on Sky Sports 2 from 1.30pm on Saturday, and Ireland v South Africa from 5pm