Samoa v Scotland, Apia
Scotland change three for Samoa
June 20, 2012
Chris Cusiter has got the nod at scrum-half © Getty Images
Scotland have made three changes ahead of their Test with Samoa at the weekend as they look to preserve their 100% record while on tour.
With John Barclay heading home to prepare for his wedding, Sale Sharks back-row Richie Vernon comes in. Coach Andy Robinson has also opted to promote Chris Cusiter and Sean Lamont to the starting XV with Mike Blair and Max Evans dropping out.
"Chris Cusiter has had a really good impact off the bench, so we have given him a start in this game," Robinson said. "He has done well and the competition between the two players [Cusiter and Blair] has been really close. They are both playing good rugby at the moment.
"For Sean, we will need to establish some real go-forward against the big hitters in the Samoan team. We think Sean will give us that. With the number of big hitters in their team, we think Sean will give us another impact runner."
Both Cusiter and Lamont said that they expected Robinson to stick with the same back line that downed Fiji last weekend, but Lamont was understandably delighted to get the nod.
"I had presumed he [Robinson] would go with the same team as he did last week, with me on the bench," Lamont said. "I am grateful that I have an early chance. I still love playing for Scotland so any chance to go on the field is good.
"My first cap was against them, so was my 50th. Outside the Six Nations, the only team I have played more often than Samoa is Australia."
For Cusiter, one reason he is there is to mark the Samoan dangerman, Kahn Fotuali'i, out of the game. The rival scrum-halves know each other well from club meetings in the RaboDirect Pro12 - Fotuali'i plays for the Ospreys and Cusiter for Glasgow - and the Scot said: "Kahn Fotuali'i is a cracking player.
"He has had a good year at the Ospreys, he played very well in their game against Japan the other day and is a key player for them. They have a a lot of guys back in the side who play in Europe and we know them a lot better than we did the Fijians last week, so it is going to be a different challenge.
"I think the chance to come over here is unique and it brings its own challenges, just with the heat and the weather conditions, as well as the quality of players they have got."
Scotland: S Hogg (Glasgow); S Lamont (Scarlets), N De Luca (Edinburgh), M Scott (Edinburgh), T Visser (Edinburgh); G Laidlaw (Edinburgh), C Cusiter (Glasgow); R Grant (Glasgow), R Ford (C) (Glasgow), E Murray (Newcastle), A Kellock (Glasgow), R Gray (Glasgow), A Strokosch (Gloucester), R Rennie (Edinburgh), R Vernon (Sale)
Replacements: S Lawson (London Irish), G Cross (Edinburgh), T Ryder (Glasgow), R Harley (Glasgow), M Blair (Brive), D Weir (Glasgow), M Evans (Castres)
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