Scots make three changes
Chris Cusiter and Sean Lamont promoted from the bench
Last Updated: 19/06/12 6:39pm
Chris Cusiter: promoted from the bench to face Samoa
Scotland have made three changes to the team that beat Fiji for Saturday's Test against Samoa in Apia, the island's capital.
As expected, Richie Vernon, the Sale Sharks back row, comes in for John Barclay, who is heading home to prepare for his wedding, but head coach Andy Robinson has also promoted Chris Cusiter and Sean Lamont from the bench to the starting 15 at scrum half and wing respectively.
That means that Mike Blair and Max Evans drop out of the starting line-up, though both are expected to feature on the bench, with Robinson explaining: "Chris Cusiter has had a really good impact off the bench, so we have given him a start in this game," the coach 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."
Almost all the squad were able to train earlier to day despite the bumps and bruises that followed their win over Fiji.
Alasdair Strokosch was restricted to some light work on the sidelines, as was Euan Murray, and both will be given fitness tests on Friday - which Robinson says he is confident they will pass - to confirm their availability for Saturday's game.
"If this was the first match, we would be making those decisions now but because it is the third we can make that decision later," he said.
Scotland's win in Australia and Fiji have put them on the brink of being able to claim a southern hemisphere clean sweep, but Robinson has only to think back a couple of years to be able to point out just how tough the game against Samoa will be.
He has always accepted that a week after beating South Africa, his side was lucky to beat the Pacific Islanders in freezing conditions in Aberdeen, with the sides locked on 16-16 until a last-second penalty gave Scotland victory.
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 to be confirmed.