Five changes for Scotland side to face ABs

CLARE FALLON
Last updated 07:09 07/11/2012
Scotland's De Luca to start against England
Reuters
STARTING SPOT: Nick de Luca returns to the Scotland starting line-up at centre, in place of an injured Joe Ansbro, to face the All Blacks.

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Scotland have made five changes from the team that won all three matches on their Australasian tour for their opening November rugby international against world champions New Zealand at Murrayfield on Monday (NZ time).

Nick De Luca returns for the injured Joe Ansbro at centre, Mike Blair starts instead of the recuperating Chris Cusiter and Geoff Cross, Jim Hamilton and captain Kelly Brown appear in the pack instead of Euan Murray, Alastair Kellock and Richie Vernon.

Scotland stunned Australia 9-6 in June, then beat Fiji and Samoa, but coach Andy Robinson said New Zealand, who have won 26 and drawn two of the teams' 28 meetings, would be a tougher prospect.

"We will really need to start well and keep the game simple," Robinson said in a media release. "New Zealand are the world champions and they perform the basic skills well under the highest pressure.

"We need to step up from the summer tour and be ready to go toe-to-toe in a physical contest, just as Australia did most recently against New Zealand in Brisbane."

Brown, who will captain Scotland for the first time, will be winning his 50th cap.

Lock Richie Gray was included in the team subject to a fitness test later this week after making good progress from an ankle injury sustained on club duty with Sale Sharks last month.

SCOTLAND: Stuart Hogg, Sean Lamont, Nick De Luca, Matt Scott, Tim Visser, Greig Laidlaw, Mike Blair, Kelly Brown (captain), Ross Rennie, Alasdair Strokosch, Jim Hamilton, Richie Gray, Geoff Cross, Ross Ford, Ryan Grant. Reserves: Scott Lawson, Allan Jacobsen, Kyle Traynor, Alastair Kellock, David Denton, Henry Pyrgos, Ruaridh Jackson, Max Evans.

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