WITH a 13 playing at 15 and a 15 at 10, it might look like the Scotland team for tomorrow’s first Test against Argentina was at sixes and sevens. In the circumstances, however, Gregor Townsend’s selection is a credible answer to the questions posed by the personnel available to him.

That does not mean it is a cast-iron guarantee that the three-Test series will begin on a winning note in Jujuy. Far from it. But if Rory Hutchinson and Blair Kinghorn in particular justify the faith the head coach has shown in them, we should at least see a very competitive performance from the tourists.

Northampton centre Hutchinson is the 13 playing at 15, the head coach having selected him there ahead of Glasgow’s Ollie Smith, the only specialist full-back in the squad, and London Irish winger Kyle Rowe, who can also play as the last line of defence. 

Kinghorn, of course, is the 15 playing at 10, although after a season of largely being fielded at stand-off the Edinburgh player must feel almost at home there as he does in what must now be regarded as his former position. The longer-term plan to have Kinghorn as a 10 who can emulate Finn Russell’s creativity is one reason why Townsend did not do what on paper would have been simpler: selecting a 13 to play at 13 and a 15 to play at 15. Another, more short-term reason is the confidence the coach has in Hutchinson’s ability to thrive in a role he has also filled on occasion at club level.

“It’s a position we have chatted to him and his club about, and we feel he can bring his strengths out in that position,” Townsend said. “He’s a very good rugby player, and the more good rugby players you have in the squad, the better decisions you’ll have in the game.

“A lot of the game goes through Rory at Northampton and he’ll naturally get a lot of the game at the weekend. There are a lot of kicks in international rugby, so he’ll have to make decisions with what he does with that ball. 

“Once we get into our phase play, we certainly want to see him getting in there as first or second receiver. If that’s because Blair has taken the ball to the line, great, because that’s what we want to encourage him to do.”

Of the 34 players who remain with the party in northern Argentina after five were released in midweek, only Hamish Watson could not be considered for selection because of injury. “We believe it’s the strongest squad we have available,” Townsend added.

But there is, of course, a big difference between the strongest squad available and the strongest squad. Besides Watson, other absentees who might well have featured in the 23 if they had gone on tour are Stuart Hogg, Chris Harris, Finn Russell, Jamie Ritchie, Adam Hastings and Huw Jones. The first four have been given the summer off to recuperate, while Hastings and Jones pulled out through injury after being named in the squad of 40.

Even if we rule the latter two out of our thinking for the moment, that still leaves five men - a third of a team - who would normally be seen as starters. Townsend is well aware that the absence of that experience will test the mettle of his team against opponents who are playing at home for the first time in nearly three years, in front of what is expected to be an extremely vociferous support.

“It should be a big boost to them to be back playing for their country in their country. They’re always a passionate international side. You see that in the way they sing the anthem and how they play the game. 

“So I’m sure there will be an emotional response, and that usually comes through the ball carries and the defence, and that’s going to be a very good test for us, to play away from home against a team that is highly motivated. So it will be about how we adjust to that and impose our game on them. 

“The way Argentinians support their rugby team is very similar to how they support their football team. They’re going to be really behind the team. The venues are all football stadiums that are really close to the field. A couple of them have got fences all the way around which adds to a different occasion and environment to what you normally get playing rugby matches.”

Scotland (v Argentina at Estadio 23 de Agosto, Jujuy, tomorrow[Sat] 8.10pm BST): R Hutchinson; D Graham, M Bennett, S Johnson, D van der Merwe; B Kinghorn, A Price; P Schoeman, G Turner, Z Fagerson, G Gilchrist (captain), J Gray, M Bradbury, R Darge, M Fagerson. Substitutes: E Ashman, R Sutherland, J Sebastian, S Skinner, R Darge, B White, R Thompson, S Tuipulotu.