MacDonald to debut for Scots

2009-11-24 18:55

Edinburgh - Edinburgh flanker Alan MacDonald is set to make his Scotland debut against Argentina on Saturday after coach Andy Robinson made three changes to the team that dramatically beat Australia 9-8.

Ben Cairns returns in the backs as does left wing Thom Evans.

Cairns's recall at outside centre saw Robinson make a further positional switch, with Alex Grove moving to inside centre.

MacDonald, 24, replaces John Barclay in the back row while Cairns comes in for Graeme Morrison in midfield and Evans take over from Simon Danielli.

Mike Blair, Scotland's co-captain, has been ruled out with the ankle injury that saw him miss the Australia match and that saw scrum-half Rory Lawson keep his place on the bench after coming on against the Wallabies for Chris Cusiter, who has recovered from a head knock.

Robinson, himself a former England flanker and coach, said MacDonald's promotion was a reward for his performances with the Scotland A side.

"Alan MacDonald has been playing well for Scotland A. His continuity skills are very good and he deserves this chance," Robinson, who prior to taking charge of Scotland was the coach of Edinburgh, said Tuesday.

"We do have competition for places and last weekend was about two international victories at Murrayfield against Australia and at Netherdale against Tonga.

"Australia was a very physical international and that is now history.

"This selection is about the management of our squad and giving players that performed in the A team an opportunity to deliver a win for Scotland."

Argentina are eighth in the world rankings, a place above Scotland.

But the fact Australia are third in the standings did not stop Scotland from beating them for the first time in 27 years during a backs-to-the-wall display at Murrayfield last Saturday.

Argentina, beaten 33-16 by Wales in Cardiff last weekend, are due to name their side on Wednesday.

Scotland team (15-1):

Rory Lamont; Sean Lamont, Ben Cairns, Alex Grove, Thom Evans; Phil Godman, Chris Cusiter (capt); Johnnie Beattie, Alan MacDonald, Alasdair Strokosch; Alastair Kellock, Nathan Hines; Moray Low, Ross Ford, Allan Jacobsen

Replacements: Dougie Hall, Kyle Traynor, Jason White, Richie Vernon, Rory Lawson, Chris Paterson, Nick de Luca