Samoa v Scotland: Rob Harley poised for first cap

Rob Harley
Rob Harley

Glasgow Warriors' Rob Harley is in line to win his first Scotland cap after being named on the bench for the first time as they prepare to face Samoa.

The 22-year-old has been around the squad for two seasons but missed out on Rugby World Cup selection.

But the forward, who can play in most positions in the back five of the pack, has impressed with his leadership qualities by captaining Glasgow.

Former Glasgow wing David Lemi captains the hosts, who make five changes.

Scotland head coach Andy Robinson had delayed naming his replacements for Saturday's game. He had made three changes from the starting line-up that defeated Fiji last weekend.

Richie Vernon replaced John Barclay, who has been released from the squad in order to arrange his wedding, in the pack.

Brive scrum-half Mike Blair, who had been replaced with Chris Cusiter, and Castres winger Max Evans, who made way for Sean Lamont, are also both named on the bench.

Glasgow lock Tom Ryder will be looking to add to the debut cap he won against Fiji and is joined among the replacements by London Irish hooker Scott Lawson, Edinburgh prop Geoff Cross and Glasgow fly-half Duncan Weir.

Lamont and Cusiter both expressed their surprise at starting the match.

Cusiter said: "I didn't see it coming. That said, I was really pleased with my impact off the bench in the last two games, but I am still delighted.

"I am confident, I am playing well and it is nice to get a start in the last game of the season."

Cusiter (right) celebrates after Scotland open their tour with a win over Australia
Cusiter (right) celebrates after Scotland open their tour with a win over Australia

The rival scrum-halves know each other well from club meetings in the RaboDirect Pro12 - Kahn Fotuali'i plays for the Ospreys and Cusiter for Glasgow - and the Scots knows that one the reasons he is in the side is to mark the Samoan dangerman out of the game.

"Kahn Fotuali'i is a cracking player," said Cusiter. "He has had a good year at the Ospreys.

"He played very well in their game against Japan the other day and is a key player for them.

"They have a a lot of guys back in the side who play in Europe and we know them a lot better than we did the Fijians last week, so it is going to be a different challenge."

Lamont, who will be earning his 67th cap, knows he is in Robinson's line-up to provide physical presence against the big-hitting Samoans.

"I had presumed he would go with the same team as he did last week, with me on the bench," he admitted.

"I am grateful that I have an early chance. I still love playing for Scotland, so any chance to go on the field is good."

Harley's inclusion, effectively replacing Barclay, in the squad is the only change in the match-day 22 compared with the one that defeated Fiji 37-25.

However, his inclusion in the 22 does mean all the uncapped players in the 28 originally selected for the trip could go home having become full Test players.

Prop Ryan Grant and wing Tom Brown won caps against Australia, while Tim Visser and Ryder got theirs against Fiji.

Harley's involvement is far from certain as Robinson is reluctant to use his bench when things are going well.

However, in the heat and humidity of Samoa, it is likely he could be forced to use all his resources against a team who are used to the conditions.

Euan Murray, Alasdair Strokosch and Nick de Luca are expected to be fit for the match in Apia despite nursing knocks.

Census Johnston, Daniel Crichton, Ben Masoea, Futua Otto and Tusi Pisi come into the Samoa team following their recent win against Japan.

Samoa: Faatonia Autagavaia; Paul Perez, Fautua Otto, Paul Williams, David Lemi (capt), Tusi Pisi, Kahn Fotualii; Sakaria Taulafo, Tii Paulo, Census Johnston, Faatiga Lemalu, Daniel Crichton, Benjamin Masoe, Maurie Faasavalu, K Thompson.Replacements: Wayne Ole Avei, Logovii Mulipola, Io Sefa Tekori, Afa Aiono, Jeremy Sua, Ki Anufe, Lolo Lui.

Scotland: Stuart Hogg; Sean Lamont, Nick De Luca, Matt Scott, Tim Visser; Greig Laidlaw, Chris Cusiter; Ryan Grant, Ross Ford (capt), Euan Murray, Al Kellock, Richie Gray, Al Strokosch, Ross Rennie, Richie Vernon. Replacements: Scott Lawson, Geoff Cross, Tom Ryder, Rob Harley, Mike Blair, Duncan Weir, Max Evans.

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