Marcel Lawson, a rugby league convert, is called up by Australia as injured David Pocock misses out

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend, who has maintained his experimental policy since coming in last year, has made seven changes to his line-up for the International Test against Japan in Yokohama on Saturday. Sean Maitland…

Marcel Lawson, a rugby league convert, is called up by Australia as injured David Pocock misses out

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend, who has maintained his experimental policy since coming in last year, has made seven changes to his line-up for the International Test against Japan in Yokohama on Saturday.

Sean Maitland has been handed a debut at full-back, with Stuart Hogg benched, after being preferred to Finn Russell as the second-choice playmaker at 10. John Barclay is promoted to the back row for the first time, with Cornell du Preez given a late call-up for the injured Alasdair Strokosch.

Finn Russell, who captained Scotland in the summer tour to the United States and Canada, was only informed this week that he is not in the match-day squad.

“The opportunities for individual players are going to grow every time we play a competitive game,” Townsend said. “We had a team talk this week, outlining how playing well today, tomorrow and then at some stage in the future, can further our development as a team. This is a competitive team set-up and we see it as the best way for us to maintain the competitive edge and for players to keep challenging themselves.”

Kelly Brown’s late withdrawal, which is down to a hamstring injury, is a blow for Townsend, who thought the lock was recovering well after suffering from concussion earlier in the year.

“We’re disappointed to lose Kelly, but he’s got a hamstring injury and we’re concerned about him going into a big game like the Rugby World Cup,” said Townsend. “There’s no point delaying the return of a player like that, particularly in a big game like this. We just want Kelly to get back as quickly as possible. We have to manage his workload for the next few months.”

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