A big three weeks of rugby in Edinburgh starts now!

Kettle Collective

Scotland began their Autumn Test campaign last weekend in Cardiff, but with the first of three home matches taking place this weekend at BT Murrayfield excitement levels have been cranked up a notch north of the border.

The first team to visit Edinburgh for what will be three superb occasions are the wonderfully entertaining Fiji who, in the last year or so, have added some real substance to their obvious talent and now sit 10th in the world rankings.

As a result, any thoughts of a comfortable Scottish victory to help them bounce back from their Doddie Weir Cup defeat and build easy momentum ahead of the upcoming meetings with South Africa (November 17) and Argentina (November 24) can be put to one side.

This will be a real test for Gregor Townsend’s men and the head coach’s selection reflects that.

Whether you have a ticket for the match or will be cheering the team on by watching on television this should be a cracker.

Talking points ahead of Scotland v Fiji

Hooray, Hogg is back!

Stuart Hogg Scotland pre Fiji by David Gibson FOTOSPORT

Stuart Hogg is Scotland’s talisman, Scotland’s best player and the man who makes Scotland tick.

However, given that he had ankle surgery earlier this season we did not expect to see the Glasgow Warriors’ full-back strutting his stuff this November.

However, the Haawick lad is a determined character and the 26-year-old has stormed back into contention a few weeks before he was due to, much to every Scotland fan’s delight.

Head coach Townsend said this week: “Stuart has trained for two weeks now. He trained with his club and recorded some excellent speed times.

“He has trained fully with us all week so looks good to go. We had experience last year when he came back from two injuries and he played in Champions Cup games, played very well, and then two weeks later he played Test level.

“So, we could have kept him back a week for a few weeks, but he’s still going to be going into a Test match. Having watched him in training, we’ve seen he is ready.

“Two weeks ago both him and the medical team were saying Fiji was a possibility but he still had markers to pass on his ankle and how his body reacted and coped with different stresses. He’s come through that very well.”

Sam Skinner could make a real impact

Townsend always likes to throw a curve ball into proceedings and when he named Exeter Chiefs’ second-row Sam Skinner in his wider squad for this month a few weeks back he did just that.

The 23-year-old has been in fine form down south and in Europe this term and, with a fiercely passionate Scottish father cheering him on, he could really make his mark in this one.

His former forwards coach at Taunton Chris Brown said:  “The thing that makes Sam stand out from others is his attitude.

“From the first time he trained with us we could see that he was a bright lad, but he is also a great team player.

“I know in modern day rugby that is not everything, but the way he goes about things and the standards he sets helps takes other players with him to a different level.

“He had leadership qualities from his teenage years in our team and this attitude that he has plus a great athletic ability will serve him well going forward.

“Obviously international rugby is a big step-up, but whenever he has gone up a level in the game he has always risen to the challenge and I am sure he will do a great job for Scotland.

“You could not meet a more humble, hard working and all-round good guy than Sam and I will be a very proud man to watch him run out for his country this weekend.”

Sam Skinner in his Taunton days

Ryan has a plan to stop Leone

Scotland vice-captain Ryan Wilson is confident Scotland can contain Fiji’s star player – and one of his good friends from their time together at Glasgow Warriors – Leone Nakarawa.

Speaking about the 30-year-old Racing 92 second-row Wilson said:  “We know what he’s like, he was Euro player of the year last year.

“He’s a dangerous players, but we’ll see, we can contain him. I can wind him up enough – I know what buttons to press!

“I met up with him on Tuesday night and he was joking and saying that they are all going to run over Finn [Russell, likely to start at 10 for Scotland].

“The thing with the Fijians is that you are not going to be able to contain all of them at once because they are all outstanding individual players.

“Over the last few days we have put a big focus on what we have to do: go out and play well, look after the ball, don’t give them anything and hopefully come out on top.

“We know we’re a fit team and with them maybe not so fit so we will be trying to play at tempo and looking to move the ball about, but anything 50/50 we will look after the ball and play a bit tighter than we did last week.”

Scotland squad

15 Stuart Hogg V-C (Glasgow Warriors) – 62 caps

14 Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors) – 44 caps

13 Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors) – 29 caps

12 Pete Horne (Glasgow Warriors) – 36 caps

11 Sean Maitland (Saracens) – 34 caps

10 Finn Russell (Racing 92) – 37 caps

9 Greig Laidlaw C (Clermont Auvergne) – 63 caps

1 Allan Dell (Edinburgh) – 14 caps

2 Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) – 35 caps

3 Willem Nel (Edinburgh) – 23 caps

4 Sam Skinner (Exeter Chiefs) – uncapped

5 Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh) – 26 caps

6 Ryan Wilson V-C (Glasgow Warriors) – 38 caps

7 Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh) – 3 caps

8 Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) – 2 caps

16 Stuart McInally (Edinburgh) – 19 caps

17 Alex Allan (Glasgow Warriors) – 5 caps

18 Simon Berghan (Edinburgh) – 11 caps

19 Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors) – 44 caps

20 Josh Strauss (Sale Sharks) – 14 caps

21 George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) – 3 caps

22 Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors) – 4 caps

23 Chris Harris (Newcastle Falcons) – 4 caps

Fiji squad

Fiji prepare to play Scotland by David Gibson FOTOSPORT

Tuicuvu (Clermont Auvergne); Talebula (Bayonne), Radradra (Bordeaux Bègles), Vatubua (Pau), Goneva (Newcastle Falcons); Volavola (Racing 92), Lomani (Fijian Drua); Ma’afu (Leicester Tigers), Matavesi (Cornish Pirates), Saulo (London Irish), Cavubati (Newcastle Falcons), Nakarawa (Racing 92), Waqaniburotu (Brive), Yato (Clermont Auvergne), Mata (Edinburgh). Substitutes: Dolokoto (Fijian Drua), Mawi (Fijian Drua), Tawake (Biarritz), Tuisue (Fijian Drua), Kunatani (Harlequins), Seniloli (Doncaster Knights), Veitokani (Fijian Drua), Vasiteri (Provence).

Scotland v Fiji is on Saturday, November 10 at 2.30pm

Thanks to David Gibson/FOTOSPORT and Taunton RFC for the images

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