HEAD coach Gregor Townsend has named his starting XV and replacements for Scotland’s opening game in the Autumn series against Australia at Murrayfield on Saturday (October 29).

The squad is made up of all home-based players due to the match being played outside the designated international window.

Borderer Darcy Graham starts the game while Jedburgh’s Glen Young and former Melrose player Damien Hoyland are listed among the replacements.

 6ft 7in second-row Young is a late addition to the squad, having been drafted in to replace Glasgow Warriors’ Scott Cummings was ruled out with a broken toe sustained in training this week.

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend is adamant the Aussies are not to be taken lightly when they return to Edinburgh this weekend, however.

“We’re aware of the strengths Australia bring,” he said. “I was in Melbourne last month watching them against New Zealand. They lost (39-37) in the last seconds of that game after a brilliant comeback.

“Although they’ve not won as many games as they’d have liked, they’ve shown their quality enough times over the summer to be positive about their northern hemisphere tour.”

The Scots go into this weekend’s opening autumn Test buoyed by the knowledge they have won their last three meetings with Australia.

“They were all different games, against different coaches as well,” said Townsend. “Last year’s game is the most relevant (to this one) because it was the same coaching staff.

“It was a very tight game, they played well and had come off the back of beating South Africa just before they played us. They also beat South Africa this summer, so they’re a quality team.

“We know Dave Rennie really well and he’s always had an attacking philosophy. It will be a big test for us, but we have some continuity from the summer tour even though we’re not able to select players who play outside Scotland. A lot of this 23 were involved in the Argentina Tests.”

Scotland have had an underwhelming 2022 so far, but Townsend is hoping the fact seven of their next nine matches are at Murrayfield can help them generate momentum ahead of the World Cup next year.

“We know that playing for Scotland is about inspiring our nation and the best way to do that is winning games,” said the head coach. “We’ve got a lot of home games coming up over the next 12 months and our next four games are at home, so the energy we’ll get off the crowd by playing well can drive us through to have success over the next few weeks.”

Townsend downplayed any possibility of Finn Russell – a surprise omission from the initial squad amid ongoing friction with the head coach – being recalled to the fold on the back of his impressive display for Racing 92 last weekend.

Asked if the door was still open to the fly-half, Townsend said: “Yes, of course. The door is not closed on any player. There are opportunities that come through injury, as Glen Young has grabbed this week, or through form of players.”

Scotland squad

Ollie Smith (Glasgow Warriors), Darcy Graham (Edinburgh Rugby), Mark Bennett (Edinburgh Rugby),  Sione Tuipulotu (Glasgow Warriors), Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh Rugby), Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Rugby), Ali Price – Vice Captain – (Glasgow Warriors), Pierre Schoeman (Edinburgh Rugby), Dave Cherry (Edinburgh Rugby), Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors), Sam Skinner (Edinburgh Rugby), Grant Gilchrist – Vice Captain (Edinburgh Rugby), Jamie  Ritchie – Captain – (Edinburgh Rugby), Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby),  Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors)

Replacements - George Turner (Glasgow Warriors), Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors), WP Nel (Edinburgh Rugby), Glen Young (Edinburgh Rugby), Jack Dempsey (Glasgow Warriors), George Horne (Glasgow Warriors), Ross Thompson (Glasgow Warriors), Damien Hoyland (Edinburgh Rugby) 4 caps. The game kicks off at 5.30pm.