Mercurial flyhalf Finn Russell will pull the strings for Scotland when they take on South Africa in Marseille on Sunday after coach Gregor Townsend named their matchday-23.
The Scots, ranked fifth in the world, are in Pool B alongside not only the second-ranked Springboks but also Ireland, the world’s number one team, a Tonga side boasting a number of former New Zealand and Australia players, and Romania.
With only two sides progressing to the knock-out phase of the tournament in France, every game will be crucial.
Townsend named Russell, in his third World Cup, alongside Ben White at half-back, with centres Sione Tuipulotu and Huw Jones continuing their partnership in midfield.
Prolific wingers Duhan van der Merwe and Darcy Graham are joined in the back three by full-back Blair Kinghorn.
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) September 8, 2023
Jamie Ritchie captains the team from blindside flanker and is joined in the backrow by openside Rory Darge and Jack Dempsey at No 8.
Richie Gray and Grant Gilchrist, both of whom will be appearing at a third Rugby World Cup, combine at lock forward, while George Turner gets the nod at hooker, packing down with Pierre Schoeman (loosehead) and Zander Fagerson (tighthead).
Townsend plumped for a five-three split on the bench, opting for forwards Dave Cherry (hooker), Jamie Bhatti and WP Nel (props), Scott Cummings (lock) and Matt Fagerson (backrow).
Scrumhalf Ali Price, centre Cameron Redpath and fullback Ollie Smith complete the 23-strong match-day squad.
© Agence France-Presse
Photo: Daniel LEAL / AFP