Scotland v Fiji: Stuart Hogg, Finn Russell & Greig Laidlaw return; Sam Skinner handed debut

Stuart Hogg trains with Scotland

Scotland v Fiji
Venue: Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh Date: Saturday, 10 November Kick-off: 14:30 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One, BBC Radio Scotland the BBC Sport website and app. Live text on BBC Sport website

Stuart Hogg has been passed fit to return for Scotland against Fiji just eight weeks after ankle surgery.

The Glasgow full-back was expected to be sidelined for 10-12 weeks and miss the entire autumn Test series.

But he starts on Saturday, with Sean Maitland, Finn Russell and Greig Laidlaw, who will captain the side, also back after missing the Wales game.

Centre Huw Jones is dropped, Pete Horne starting, while Exeter lock Sam Skinner is handed his debut.

He starts alongside Grant Gilchrist, with Jonny Gray on the bench, while Matt Fagerson is at number eight with Ryan Wilson moving to blind-side flanker and Jamie Ritchie to open-side.

Fraser Brown also comes into the side at hooker, with Stuart McInally – captain against Wales – missing out as head coach Gregor Townsend makes nine changes in all from the side beaten 21-10 in Cardiff.

A further positional switch sees Alex Dunbar move from outside to inside centre to accommodate Horne.

Hogg, who suffered an ankle injury playing for Glasgow against Munster on 7 September, had surgery after returning from Warriors’ trip to South Africa the following week.

He takes over at full-back from Blair Kinghorn, with Russell replacing Adam Hastings – who is on the bench – at fly-half and Laidlaw starting ahead of Ali Price at scrum-half.

It will be Laidlaw’s first Scotland outing since kicking the match-winning penalty against Italy at the end of this year’s Six Nations, and the first time he has led the side under Townsend.

Sale number eight Josh Strauss – recalled after a 17-month absence – and Newcastle centre Chris Harris also join the replacements.

Fiji ‘pose huge threats off turnover ball’

“It’s a more experienced side this week in terms of time together at this level, while we’ve rewarded some of those who performed well off the bench with the chance to start,” explained Townsend.

“We’ve had a good week in training with a slightly different focus for the challenges we expect Fiji to present this Saturday.

“In particular, they pose huge threats off turnover ball, utilising some of the best individual players, one-on-one, in the world.

“That presents us with an opportunity to consider different approaches tactically and use different strategies to apply pressure in front of our home support.

“Our pack will have to work exceptionally hard against a very physical Fijian side and our backs will have to be alert to opportunities as a consequence of that work.

“We have to be physical and accurate, play to our strengths and put them under pressure in areas they don’t want to go into, to make sure the game is open for us but not for them.”

Fiji beat Scotland 27-22 in their last meeting, in Suva, in June 2017.

Scotland team: Stuart Hogg (Glasgow); Tommy Seymour (Glasgow), Alex Dunbar (Glasgow), Peter Horne (Glasgow), Sean Maitland (Glasgow), Finn Russell (Racing 92), Greig Laidlaw (Clermont – capt); Allan Dell (Edinburgh), Fraser Brown (Glasgow), Willem Nel (Edinburgh), Sam Skinner (Exeter), Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh), Ryan Wilson (Glasgow), Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh), Matt Fagerson (Glasgow).

Replacements: Stuart McInally (Edinburgh), Alex Allan (Glasgow), Simon Berghan (Edinburgh), Jonny Gray (Glasgow), Josh Strauss (Sale), George Horne (Glasgow), Adam Hastings (Glasgow), Chris Harris (Newcastle).

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