BRYAN Easson has named his strongest available Scotland side for tomorrow’s Test against Japan - the last fixture before the World Cup repechage tournament early next year.

There is only one change to the starting line-up from the one that began the win in late September against Ireland that saw Easson’s team go through to that repechage. Sarah Bonar, a substitute then, starts at lock instead of Louise McMillan. Two uncapped Edinburgh University players, prop forward Anne Young and back Shona Campbell, join McMillan on the bench for the friendly at Edinburgh’s DAM Health Stadium.

“We didn’t want to throw players in just for the sake of it,” head coach Easson said. “Everyone in there is deserving of it, and this is an international game against Japan and it’s about getting used to winning games. This would give us three on the bounce and that would build confidence.”

Japan lost 23-5 to Wales last week in what was their first match in nearly two years. Their previous outing was in fact against Scotland, at Scotstoun at the end of 2019, and saw them beat the home side 24-20. 

The Japanese qualified automatically for next year's World Cup, to be held in New Zealand, having been given a place in the finals by virtue of their world ranking after the Asian qualifying tournament had to be cancelled because of the pandemic. Scotland will face Samoa, Colombia and either Kazakhstan or Hong Kong in the repechage, from which only the winners progress to the World Cup proper.

Scotland (v Japan at the DAM Health Stadium, Sunday 4.10pm): C Rollie; R Lloyd, H Smith, L Thomson, M Gaffney; H Nelson, H Maxwell; L Bartlett, L Skeldon, C Belisle, E Wassell, S Bonar, R McLachlan, R Malcolm (captain), J Konkel. Substitutes: M Wright, A Young, L Cockburn, L McMillan, E Gallagher, S Law, E Wills, S Campbell.