Chris Fusaro, the 24-year-old Glasgow Warriors flanker, looks set to make his international debut for Scotland in Saturday's Calcutta Cup match with England at Murrayfield.
Herald Sport understands that Fusaro, who has been close to selection on a number of previous occasions, is being lined up to take the openside place of the captain Kelly Brown, who is likely to drop out of the matchday squad altogether. The shock move comes in the wake of the Scots' 28-6 defeat by Ireland in Dublin last Sunday, a performance variously described by the forwards coach Jonathan Humphreys as "awful", "dreadful" and "a shambles".
Earlier this season, the interim head coach Scott Johnson suggested the 5ft 11in Fusaro, who weighs in at just under 15st, lacked the bulk needed to compete in the heavy traffic of international rugby. However, it appears that his combination of pace, stamina and ball-winning skills have counted in his favour after Ireland exposed Scotland's weaknesses in contact.
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If it comes to pass, the selection of Fusaro is one of three changes that are likely to be made to the starting line-up that ran out against Ireland. With Sean Maitland ruled out by an ankle injury - further assessment yesterday revealed soft tissue damage that will not require surgery but will put him out of the game for up to eight weeks - Tommy Seymour looks set to be given a place on the wing ahead of Max Evans, who came on as a substitute in Dublin, while Matt Scott is expected to resume his customary place at inside centre, taking the No.12 shirt back from Duncan Taylor.
Sources have also suggested that a couple of significant changes are to be made on the bench. It is understood that Newcastle Falcons hooker Scott Lawson has been preferred to Glasgow's Pat MacArthur, and that Jonny Gray could oust his brother Richie to cover the second-row positions.
Scrum-half Greig Laidlaw, who was criticised in some quarters for his service in the game against Ireland, is expected to retain his position in the starting XV, as is his half-back partner Duncan Weir. Glasgow's Chris Cusiter looked sharp when he took over from Laidlaw in Dublin, but the latter's goalkicking abilities appear to be indispensable at the moment.
Although the weather forecast for Saturday afternoon is less severe than that which was being predicted earlier in the week, an attritional contest is still expected, not least on account of the condition of the Murrayfield pitch. With that in mind, goal-kicking accuracy could turn out to be as critical as it has been in other recent games against England.