South Africa v Scotland
Adam Ashe fast-tracked into Scotland side
June 26, 2014
Adam Ashe on being selected for the Scotland side © Twitter
Adam Ashe will become the seventh player to make his Scotland debut this summer after being named in the XV to face South Africa in Port Elizabeth on Saturday, and will do so without having made his debut for Glasgow Warriors.
Ashe, a 20-year-old No.8, only joined up with the squad last weekend after making his way from New Zealand where he was midway through a scholarship programme. He has only played 36 minutes of professional rugby this season due to injury but is one of four changes to the Scotland starting line-up that won in Argentina.
Scotland coach Vern Cotter has no doubts the youngster is ready, saying: "He has been identified as a talent, that is why he was in New Zealand on that scholarship. He has been plying his trade in Canterbury and I think they are pretty good judges of quality and character down there and he has come back with positive feedback on what he has been doing.
"Added to what I have seen in the last couple of days I think he is a talented young player. These days 20 to 21 is not old to be playing top level footie, it is now you want to be putting your hand up and saying 'this is what I want to do'. He is a specialist No.8 and we did not have one and we want to have a look at him."
Ashe replaces London Irish back row Kieran Low, who has been forced to go home because the Premiership has banned those from its member clubs from this game as it falls outside the international window where clubs are obliged to release players. The same situation has robbed Cotter of another London Irish player, flanker Blair Cowan, with Chris Fusaro stepping up from the bench to take his place.
Cotter has also made two other changes to his starting XV, with Tim Swinson returning in place of Jonny Gray in the second row, and scrum-half Henry Pyrgos, who scored a try as a replacement in last week's 21-19 win over Argentina in Cordoba, replacing Grayson Hart. Gray and Hart both drop to the bench, with uncapped Glasgow forward Tyrone Holmes coming in for club-mate Fusaro among the replacements. If Holmes plays he would become the 25th player in the last 18 months to debut with Scotland, and the eighth on the summer tour.
It is almost all change among the remaining replacements, with Euan Murray ready to win his 60th cap after returning to the squad this week while Peter Murchie is hoping to resume an international career stalled by injury. Only wing Dougie Fife keeps his place from last week's bench.
Though Scotland arrive in Port Elizabeth unbeaten on this tour, Cotter is under no illusion that this is by far their sternest test, even though South Africa have also been forced into a raft of changes.
"They are very strong," he said. "Very strong from driven line outs, they will be physical but we can't just expect them to try to dominate us. They will move the ball at certain times as well. We have to be prepared to get off the defensive line and cut them down quickly because if we give them space they are going to make breaks and score tries, just in itself that is an important challenge.
"We are looking to try to build certain things in the game that will help us. It is a case of getting things in place. We respect South Africa enormously but we have to put things together for ourselves. Both teams will be looking for cohesion."
Scotland S Hogg (Glasgow Warriors); S Maitland (Glasgow Warriors), N De Luca (Edinburgh), P Horne (Glasgow Warriors), T Seymour (Glasgow Warriors); D Weir (Glasgow Warriors), H Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors); A Dickinson (Edinburgh), R Ford (Edinburgh), G Cross (Glasgow Warriors), T Swinson (Glasgow Warriors), G Gilchrist (Edinburgh), R Harley (Glasgow Warriors), C Fusaro (Glasgow Warriors) A Ashe (Glasgow Warriors).
Replacements: K Bryce (Glasgow Warriors), M Low (Glasgow Warriors), E Murray (Glasgow Warriors), J Gray (Glasgow Warriors), T Holmes (Glasgow Warriors), G Hart (Edinburgh), D Fife (Edinburgh), P Murchie (Glasgow Warriors).
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd