STUART Hogg believes that South Africa have demonstrated their respect for Scotland by selecting their strongest possible team for Saturday’s Autumn Nations Series clash at Murrayfield. 

Duane Vermeulen, Eben Etzbeth, Damian de Allender, Lukhanyo Am and skipper Siya Kolisi were among the world class operators included in the line-up when head coach Jacques Nienaber named his team for the match on Tuesday. 

The Scotland team will be announced at lunchtime today, with Gregor Townsend not expected to deviate too far from the side which secured a 15-13 victory over Australia last Sunday, although second-row Scott Cummings is likely to come back into the match-day squad if fit again after an arm injury. 

“South Africa are a very impressive team and are world champions for a reason,” said Hogg. “They have some of the best individual rugby players and as a collective are incredibly strong.  

“The side they have named is incredibly strong. I see that as a huge respect given to us in that they have named a full-strength squad and shows how far we have come.  

“In saying that, no matter what team they put out it would have been incredibly strong.”

“We are not getting too far ahead of ourselves, but we have had some big wins over the last 18 months or so and we are excited for the opportunity to take on the world champions at BT Murrayfield,” added the Scotland captain. 

“They have played some very nice rugby over the past couple of years and for us to have an opportunity play against them in front of our fans, our people, is fantastic.” 

Hogg was speaking at an event in Edinburgh yesterday highlighting the work done by the Laureus Sport for Good to grow the game globally, and specifically their partnership with the School of Hard Knocks (SOHK) programme in Fife, which aims to use rugby coaching, classroom sessions and mentoring to improve attendance and behaviour at school. 

Working with young people aged 13-14, the programme builds confidence and resilience, improves physical and mental wellbeing and encourages young people to fulfil their potential in education.  

“The pandemic has had a devastating impact throughout society, and the kids in the programmes Laureus supports really felt the impact of lockdowns and isolations with sporting facilities being forced to close and activities being put on hold,” said Hogg, who is an ambassador for the charity. “It’s special for me to see the great work the organisation is doing here in Scotland.”