Josh Strauss will be eager to deliver a polished performance in Sunday's clash between Scotland and USA at Elland Road in Leeds. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
Having become eligible to play for Scotland on 19 September, the former Lions captain made his Test debut in their 45-10 win against high-flying Japan in Gloucester last Wednesday. He came off the bench with 23 minutes remaining, but didn't make much of an impression by his own high standards.
Now the 28-year-old has been handed a second opportunity to show his worth on the big stage, and against an ill-disciplined USA team you wouldn't bet against him.
Scotland looked rusty during the first half against Japan, but a clinical second-half display delivering five tries gave them the five log points.
With the Scots playing the Springboks next, coach Vern Cotter has made a host of changes to his match 23 for this USA game, and in the process given Strauss his first Test start at No 8.
What could count in USA's favour is that coach Mike Tolkin has opted for continuity and stuck largely with the same starting XV that lost to Samoa. There is just one change, at hooker, with Phil Thiel replacing Zach Fenoglio.
This young Scottish team should have too much firepower for the USA, but if things do threaten to go south, Strauss could have a crucial role to play.
STRAUSS'S STAT'S THAT MATTER
1 – Test cap, against Japan
23 – Minutes played
8 – Tackles made
HEAD TO HEAD
Overall: Scotland 4, USA 0
Scotland – 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Peter Horne, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Henry Pyrgos (c), 8 Josh Strauss, 7 John Hardie, 6 Alasdair Strokosch, 5 Richie Gray, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Ryan Grant.
Subs: 16 Ross Ford, 17 Alasdair Dickinson, 18 Willem Nel, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 Ryan Wilson, 21 Greig Laidlaw, 22 Duncan Weir, 23 Matt Scott.
USA – 15 Chris Wyles (c), 14 Takudzwa Ngwenya, 13 Seamus Kelly, 12 Thretton Palamo, 11 Blaine Scully, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Mike Petri, 8 Samu Manoa, 7 Andrew Durutalo, 6 Al McFarland, 5 Greg Peterson, 4 Hayden Smith, 3 Titi Lamositele, 2 Phil Thiel, 1 Eric Fry.
Subs: 16 Zach Fenoglio, 17 Oli Kilifi, 18 Chris Baumann, 19 Cam Dolan, 20. John Quill, 21 Danny Barrett, 22 Shalom Suniula, 23 Folau Niua.
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: John Lacey (Ireland), Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)
Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images