Robbo to mix it up for Tonga challenge RUGBY Scotland coach will look at all his options

ANDY ROBINSON has used Saturday's final EMC Autumn Test against Tonga to freshen up his side with the 2013 Six Nations very much in mind.

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Al Kellock will start for Scots
Al Kellock will start for Scots

Scotland's back-to-back defeats at the hands of the world's top two ranked sides, New Zealand and South Africa, means Robbo's men have no chance of nicking a top-eight ranking that would ensure them top-two seeding status for the group stages of the Rugby World Cup 2015 to be drawn next month.

As a result, the Scotland head coach has made five changes in personnel from the team that started against South Africa and four switches on the bench as Scotland seek to protect their 100% record in Aberdeen.

The most noticeable change has been the awarding of a first start to Glasgow's Henry Pyrgos, who will start at scrum-half in place of Mike Blair.

Inclusive of the No.9, there are five Glasgow players in the starting line-up. Warriors skipper Al Kellock is restored to the second row instead of Jim Hamilton where he will join Richie Gray.

Ryan Grant starts his sixth international on the bounce at loosehead, while Stuart Hogg stays in at full-back and Sean Lamont also retains his place in the back line.

Robinson said: "We will not be among the top-eight seeds for the 2015 Rugby World Cup draw. As a result, I'm looking at giving a number of players an opportunity to put their hand up for selection.

"This weekend we have to put together an 80-minute performance and build on the positive parts of our game we showed in the last 30 minutes against South Africa and the second half against New Zealand.

"It's vital you convert your pressure into points and when you are under pressure that you are able to absorb it as opposed to conceding points as cheaply as we have ."

The other changes in the team has Max Evans return at outside-centre to the stadium where he won his first cap four years ago in preference to Nick De Luca. Scott Lawson will begin his first international for over a year at hooker.

Al Strokosch returns to the back row after injury, while Edinburgh's Grant Gilchrist and Bath stand-off Tom Heathcote are on the bench.

Substitute scrum-half Rory Lawson is back on Scotland duty for the first time since the 2011 Rugby World Cup match against Argentina.

Robinson added: "It's great we are here in Aberdeen and that there's likely to be a sell-out crowd. Their backing will be vital as Tonga have picked a strong 15 who have clearly come to win."

Scotland: Hogg, Lamont, Evans, Scott, Visser, Laidlaw, Pyrgos, Grant, Lawson, Murray, Gray, Kellock, Strokosch, Brown, Denton.


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