Scotland makes 8 changes, Australia just 1 for Saturday test
SYDNEY (AP) Coach Gregor Townsend made eight changes to Scotland's starting lineup to face Australia in Saturday's rugby test, including the return of 23-year-old lock Jonny Gray.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, meanwhile, made just one change Thursday from the starting side which beat Fiji 34-12 last weekend. Cheika selected Queensland Reds winger Eto Nabuli to make his test debut as a replacement for Henry Speight, who sustained a minor hamstring strain in his two-try performance against Fiji.
Michael Hooper will again skipper the side with national captain Stephen Moore to duel with Tolu Latu for a spot among the reserves, which Cheika will name on Friday.
Scotland will field an entirely new front row and back three to the team that started in last weekend's 34-13 victory over Italy in Singapore.
A contentious omission from the British and Irish Lions' tour of New Zealand, Gray is known for attempting 85 tackles in the 2015 Six Nations campaign, and missing just one.
Townsend said he deliberately kept Gray fresh to play the Wallabies, when Scotland's the focus will be on avenging the contentious World Cup quarterfinal loss to Australia in 2015.
''We've managed him for a reason to make sure he's ready to go for this game,'' Townsend said. ''He's been a key player for Scotland the last two or three seasons. He's in great form. He can't wait to play.'' Gray will partner Australia-born Ben Toolis in the second row.
In 2012, Scotland had an upset 9-6 win over Australia in driving rain at Newcastle, north of Sydney, in the Wallabies' opening match of the season. Scotland returns five years later as the No. 5-ranked team in the world and optimistic of another win in Australia.
Australia edged Scotland 35-34 at the last World Cup, with the winning points kicked by flyhalf Bernard Foley after a controversial penalty in the final minute.
Foley will be lining up again at flyhalf for Australia and will be marking Finn Russell, whom Townsend credits for Scotland's attacking flair.
''Finn's certainly helped the way the team has played in terms of ambition and taking the ball to the line, being confident enough to make decisions,'' Townsend said. ''Not all of them are going to work, but he's got that mindset. He's calm under pressure. If he sees space to attack, he'll go and grab it, and that's great for other people to work off.''
Scotland will conclude its three-test tour next Saturday in Suva against Fiji. Australia plays Italy in Brisbane in its third match of the June internationals.
Australia: Israel Folau, Dane Haylett-Petty, Tevita Kuridrani, Karmichael Hunt, Eto Nabuli, Bernard Foley, Will Genia; Tom Robertson, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Allan Alaalatoa, Sam Carter, Adam Coleman, Ned Hanigan, Michael Hooper (captain), Scott Higginbotham. Reserves: to be named Friday.
Scotland: Greig Tonks, Lee Jones, Alex Dunbar, Duncan Taylor, Rory Hughes, Finn Russell, Ali Price; Ryan Wilson, Hamish Watson, John Barclay (captain), Jonny Gray, Ben Toolis, Zander Fagerson, Fraser Brown, Gordon Reid. Reserves: Ross Ford, Allan Dell, Willem Nel, Tim Swinson, Josh Strauss, Henry Pyrgos, Ruaridh Jackson, Matt Scott.