Scotland have made nine changes – including the return of Stuart Hogg, a first cap for lock Sam Skinner and the end of Josh Strauss’ 17-month international exile – to the side for Saturday’s first home Autumn International against Fiji at BT Murrayfield.
Hogg is set to win his 63rd cap from full-back having recovered much earlier than expected following ankle surgery in September.
At that time, it was expected he would miss between 10 and 12 weeks, but the two-time Six Nations Player of the Championship has returned ahead of schedule, and replaces Blair Kinghorn in the number 15 jersey.
He will be flanked in the back three by the reselected Tommy Seymour and Sean Maitland, who comes in having sat out the game in Wales – the Saracens wing, and the rest of Scotland’s Exile players were unavailable with the match falling outside World Rugby’s designated Autumn International window.
Elsewhere in the back division, Peter Horne is rewarded for an impressive cameo off the bench in Cardiff as he takes the number 12 shirt, with Alex Dunbar moving to outside centre in place of Huw Jones, while Russell and Laidlaw – both unavailable for the Doddie Weir Cup defeat to Wales, return at half-back.
Up front, Fraser Brown rotates in for Stuart McInally to start at hooker, with the Edinburgh man on the bench; while E Skinner will win his first cap alongside Grant Gilchrist in the second row.
With McInally dropping out of the starting XV, Laidlaw reassumes the captaincy and will lead his country for the 32nd time.
Matt Fagerson starts a Test at BT Murrayfield for the first time, winning just his third cap at number eight as Ryan a Wilson moves to blindside with Jamie Ritchie taking the number seven shirt.
On the bench, there’s a return for Strauss, whose last Test outing was in Suva 17 months ago, but having performed well in recent weeks for Sale Sharks, the experienced back-rower was added to the international squad on Monday, and has won a place in the 23-man squad.
On the bench, McInally and his Edinburgh team-mate Simon Berghan are joined again by Alex Allan as the loosehead prop cover. Jonny Gray is the lock cover, and Strauss completes the forward compliment. George Horne is again the replacement scrum half and is joined by Glasgow colleague Adam Hastings and Newcastle’s Chris Harris on the bench.
Scotland team to play Fiji at BT Murrayfield on Saturday: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Alex Dunbar, 12 Pete Horne 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw (captain); 1 Allan Dell, 2 Fraser Brown, 3 WP Nel, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 5 Sam Skinner, 6 Ryan Wilson, 7 Jamie Ritchie, 8 Matt Fagerson. Replacements: 16 Stuart Mcainally, 17 Alex Allan, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Jonny Gray, 20 Josh Strauss, 21 George Horne, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Chris Harris