Japan v Scotland: Henry Pyrgos captain as visitors make six changes

By Tom EnglishBBC Scotland in Japan
Henry Pyrgos in action at the World Cup
Pyrgos will win his 18th cap in Tokyo, making his fifth start
Summer Test: Japan v Scotland
Date: Saturday, 25 June Venue: Ajinomoto Stadium, Tokyo Kick-off: 11:20 BST
Coverage: Watch on BBC Two Scotland and BBC Sport website

Henry Pyrgos will captain Scotland in the second and final Test against Japan in Tokoyo on Saturday, taking over from Greig Laidlaw at scrum-half.

Head coach Vern Cotter makes six changes following last weekend's 26-13 victory, with winger Sean Maitland and centre Peter Horne coming in.

Edinburgh prop Rory Sutherland makes his first start, while Moray Low joins him in the front row.

Josh Strauss takes over from John Hardie in the back row.

South Africa-based centre Huw Jones is set to win his first cap from the bench.

Gordon Reid is also among the replacements, having arrived this week to provide cover for the injured Al Dickinson, whose place goes to Sutherland.

Low makes his first international start in three years, stepping in for WP Nel, who has not trained fully this week and drops to the bench.

With Duncan Taylor also sidelined through injury, Horne will play inside centre with Matt Scott switching to outside centre, while Maitland replaces Damien Hoyland.

Strauss is drafted in at flanker, which means John Barclay moves from blind-side to open-side as Ryan Wilson keeps the number eight jersey.

David Denton, who replaced Wilson for the final 16 minutes of the first Test, misses out altogether.

Pyrgos has endured an injury-hit season and did not feature in this year's Six Nations campaign due to a wrist problem. The Glasgow scrum-half will also take over the kicking duties from Laidlaw.

Describing his third experience of the captaincy as "an honour and a privilege", the 26-year-old expressed relief at being back in the side having not played for Scotland since the World Cup win over USA in September 2015.

Cotter expects 'tenacious' Japan

"Henry takes that responsibility on his shoulders pretty squarely," said Cotter. "He's been very patient and has always had that leadership behind Greig.

"We expect another tough game. Japan are a very tenacious side, very quick to the breakdown. They scramble hard and defend ferociously inside their 22.

"Since the World Cup they've probably put more pressure on at the breakdown and so we're going to have to get there quickly.

"We have to be accurate. They caught us a little bit last Saturday so credit to them. They're a good side and were going to have another hot game on the weekend."

Ford must wait for century

Cotter has again left Ross Ford out of the 23, the Edinburgh hooker deemed not quite ready to play after missing last weekend through injury.

Ford, on 99 caps, is therefore going to have to wait a while longer to join the century club.

The head coach said the bench will be critical so Jones, 22, is as good as guaranteed a debut following his whirlwind arrival on the Scottish Test scene.

"He's got play-making skills and he moves well," said Cotter.

"He can cover centre, wing and probably full-back as well if you asked him. The bench will have a big role to play."

Two changes for Japan

Japan have made two changes to their team, with Rikiya Matsuda coming in for the injured Kotaro Matsushima at full-back and Male Sa'u replacing Mifi Poseti Paea on the right wing.

It will be Matsuda's first start for Japan having won his previous two caps off the bench. He was sin-binned in the first Test last weekend.

Sa'u, one of the heroes of Japan's victory over South Africa, has recovered from injury and takes his place on the wing as opposed to centre, where he has won all of his previous 29 caps, including against the Springboks and Scotland during the World Cup.

Scotland: Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Matt Scott, Peter Horne, Sean Maitland, Ruaridh Jackson, Henry Pyrgos (capt), Rory Sutherland, Stuart McInally, Moray Low, Richie Gray, Jonny Gray, Josh Strauss, John Barclay, Ryan Wilson.

Replacements: Fraser Brown, Gordon Reid, Willem Nel, Tim Swinson, John Hardie, Greig Laidlaw, Huw Jones, Sean Lamont.

Japan: Matsuda, Sa'u, Bennetts, Tatekawa, Sasakura, Tamura, Shigeno, Inagaki, S. Horie, Hatakeyama, H. Ono, Kotaki, Tui, Kin, Mafi.

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