Townsend reveals Scotland side to face Fiji

Hooker Ross Ford will become the most-capped Scotland player in history in the final tour Test against Fiji in Suva this Saturday.

Ford will overtake the record held by former full-back and all-time top points’ scorer, Chris Paterson when he makes his 110th appearance in Suva, some 13 years since his debut against Australia at Murrayfield.

Since then he has gone on feature in three Rugby World Cups (2007, 2011 and 2015) and the 2009 British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa – coming off the bench in the triumphant test match in Johannesburg.

Ford became Scotland’s most-capped forward when he overtook the record held by Scott Murray when he earned his 88th cap in 2015.

This Saturday he will make his 88th start, eight shy of the 96 made by Paterson – another record in the sights on the former Kelso man who shows no signs of relenting as he targets a fourth Rugby World Cup in Japan in two years’ time.

At the other end of the spectrum, Glasgow Warriors centre Nick Grigg begins his journey into the test arena.

Grigg (24) signed for Glasgow Warriors at the start of the season having impressed for Stirling County as a Scottish Rugby Academy player.

The nuggety centre has made 21 appearances for the club since his March 2016 debut and enjoyed a fine season with the Scotstoun club.

Scotland Head Coach, Gregor Townsend, said: “It’s a great storyline that we have Nick making his international debut at the same time as Ross will make history and become the most capped Scot of all time.

“Ross has been an outstanding tourist, both on and off the field. This week he has been driving our standards and working as hard, as usual, to make sure we get our preparations right for what will be a very tough game.”

The inclusion of Ford and Grigg are two of 12 changes to the starting line-up, which sees the entire bench made up of players who kicked off last weekend’s win over Australia (24-19).

Their rotation accommodates a new back-three, which features a first tour appearance for Ruaridh Jackson at full-back, and returning wings Tim Visser and Damien Hoyland – both try scorers in Scotland’s first test victory over Italy in Singapore.

A new half-back pairing of Henry Pyrgos and Pete Horne starts the match – the latter a replacement for recent British & Irish Lions recruit Finn Russell – while the sole returnee in the backs, Duncan Taylor, partners Grigg in midfield.

In the pack Alex Allan and back-row John Hardie will make their first appearance of the tour – the latter having recovered from the back strain that forced his late withdrawal from the Italy test.

Allan is joined by the record-breaking Ford and returning tighthead prop Willem Nel in the front-row, while Hardie is accompanied by captain John Barclay and the incoming Josh Strauss in the loose forwards.

The starting line-up is completed by the inclusion of lock Tim Swinson, who switches places with Ben Toolis to partner Jonny Gray in the boiler house.

Townsend added: “It’s been a very good tour so far. The games have gone well with two positive results and the players have enjoyed their time together.

“In terms of selection, we are looking at where the guys are in terms of form and their physical status, as well as seeking to give players opportunities.

“It’s a really strong team with a bench that can up the tempo of the game. We’re looking forward to seeing them play.

“Fiji have improved a huge amount over the past few years and did very well to find a way to win against Italy last weekend. They are excellent from unstructured play and have a number of very evasive players throughout their squad.

“We have to make sure that we’re accurate when we play our attacking game and whenever we kick. Fiji will come alive if we’re loose in those areas. It should be a cracking Test match.”

Scotland: 15 Ruaridh Jackson (Harlequins), 14 Damien Hoyland (Edinburgh Rugby), 13 Nick Grigg (Glasgow Warriors), 12 Duncan Taylor (Saracens), 11 Tim Visser (Harlequins), 10 Peter Horne (Glasgow Warriors), 9 Henry Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors), 8 Josh Strauss (Glasgow Warriors), 7 John Hardie (Edinburgh Rugby), 6 John Barclay (c) (Scarlets), 5 Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors), 4 Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors), 3 Willem Nel (Edinburgh Rugby), 2 Ross Ford (Edinburgh Rugby), 1 Alex Allan (Glasgow Warriors)
Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors), 17 Gordon Reid (Glasgow Warriors), 18 Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors), 19 Ben Toolis (Edinburgh Rugby), 20 Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby), 21 Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors), 22 Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors), 23 Greig Tonks (London Irish)

Date: Saturday, June 24
Venue: ANZ Stadium, Suva
Kick-Off: 14:30 local (02:30 GMT)
Referee: Pascal Gauzère (France)
Assistant Referees: Will Houston (Australia), Graham Cooper (Australia)