Rugby World Cup: Scotland omit captain Stuart McInally for Japan decider

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'Stuart is not in his best form' - Townsend on McInally decision
Rugby World Cup Pool A: Japan v Scotland
Venue: International Stadium Yokohama, Yokohama Date: Sun, 13 October Kick-off: 11:45 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Scotland, Radio Five Live, plus text updates on the BBC Sport website and app.

Scotland captain Stuart McInally has been omitted for Sunday's crucial but under-threat World Cup Pool A decider against Japan due to a lack of form.

He starts on the bench in Yokohama, with his place at hooker going to Fraser Brown, who started in the back row for the win over Russia.

Head coach Gregor Townsend said: "It's a reward for Fraser Brown's really good form in the last three games.

"Stuart McInally has not been in his best form."

Scrum-half Greig Laidlaw will captain the side, with McInally on the bench, for a game that remains under threat because of Typhoon Hagibis, which is expected to hit Japan on Saturday.

Townsend stressed that "we have seen Stuart improving in training" and believes that the 29-year-old Edinburgh hooker "can have big impact in the second half".

Along with Brown, wings Darcy Graham and Tommy Seymour are the only survivors from the much-changed side that defeated Russia.

Seymour - replacing the injured Sean Maitland - and Brown are the only players who did not start against Samoa.

Two Saturday World Cup games have already been cancelled, and declared as draws, but World Rugby hopes the worst of the storm will have eased by Sunday and will make a decision on the morning of the game about whether it goes ahead.

If the game is cancelled and declared a draw, Scotland could exit the tournament.

Scotland sit third in their group and, should Ireland defeat Samoa, must beat the hosts - and take four more points than them - to progress to the quarter-finals.

Townsend said it would be a major letdown if it turned out that those players for whom it is likely to be a last World Cup had already played their final game at a finals.

However, he is "100% confident" the match will go ahead while planning to keep his squad indoors as they miss out on a day's training on Saturday while the typhoon is at its height.

Townsend does not believe it would be embarrassing for Scotland to lose to the hosts, who have already proved their capabilities by defeating an Ireland side who started the tournament ranked number one in the world.

"This is the game a lot of people are looking forward to," he said. "We have talking about it as one of the rare occasions where we get to play in a straight shoot-out for the quarter-finals. It is a game you dream to be involved in."

Townsend realises that most of the 70,000 inside the stadium will be rooting for the hosts in what is effectively an away game for his side.

"There will be times during the game when we will need clear heads among all the noise and need to put a huge effort into the performance," he added.

Scotland: Hogg; Seymour, Harris, Johnson, Graham, Russell, Laidlaw; Dell, Brown, Nel, Gilchrist, Gray, Bradbury, Ritchie, Thomson.

Replacements: McInally, Reid, Fagerson, Cummings, Wilson, G Horne, P Horne, Kinghorn.

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