Finn Russell has been dropped from Scotland’s squad for the upcoming Autumn series, while Jamie Ritchie is made captain.
Stuart Hogg is back in the group after resting for the summer tour to Argentina but will not resume his role as skipper.
Former Australia backer Jack Dempsey was called up for the first time.
Adam Hastings returns as one of the fly-half options, along with Blair Kinghorn and Ross Thompson.
“It’s about form and consistency,” head coach Gregor Townsend said of his selection at half-time.
“The 10s that are in our squad and Adam Hastings in particular, his form has been very good this season. We want to reward that.
“For Finn we want him to respond to this challenge and show regular form and consistency for his club.”
Racing 92 fly-half Russell, 30, was unavailable for the first game against Australia, which falls outside the testing window but makes a surprise omission for games against Fiji, New Zealand and Argentina in November.
His relationship with Townsend was strained at times, not more so than in 2020 when Russell, who has 62 caps, left the squad before the Six Nations and publicly criticized the coach’s methods.
The pair reconciled and Russell returned to the group, but was dropped of Townsend from the starting line-up for last season’s Six Nations final against Ireland, days after he was one of six players to start in an Edinburgh bar on an unauthorized night.
Loss of captain will allow Hogg to ‘play his best rugby’
Hogg was also one of those six players and subsequently Townsend refused to confirm whether the Exeter Chiefs full-back would remain captain.
But the head coach said that episode had nothing to do with Russell being dropped or Ritchie replacing Hogg as skipper.
“For Stuart, who has been a very good captain for us over the last three seasons and has guided us to some great victories, we see this as an opportunity for him to play his best rugby and to focus on that,” Townsend added .
“We think he’s our best player and that’s what we want to bring to that over the next 12 months. As you can imagine, he cares so much about leading Scotland that he was disappointed.
“But he is behind the team and Jamie. And he’s looking at it as positively as possible to ensure he can focus on playing his best rugby, which is the goal.
“We see a lot of captaincy and leadership qualities in Jamie that we have had for some time. He missed the chance on the summer tour to get that opportunity but he had it with Edinburgh earlier in the season.
“We seem to have grown into the role and to be an excellent leader.”
Glasgow Warriors’ Dempsey, 28, has 14 caps for Australia but last played for his native country at the 2019 World Cup.
World Rugby rules now allow players to represent another country if it has been more than three years since their last international match for another nation.
Scotland can only select Scotland-based players for the opening game against Australia as the game falls outside of the usual testing window.
Scotland’s autumn squad
Forward: Ewan Ashman (Sale Sharks), Josh Bayliss (Bath Rugby), Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors), Dave Cherry (Edinburgh Rugby), Andy Christie (Saracens), Luke Crosbie (Edinburgh Rugby), Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors), Jack Dempsey (Glasgow Warriors), Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors), Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors), Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby), Jonny Gray (Exeter Chiefs), Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors), Nick Haining (Edinburgh Rugby), WP Nel ( Edinburgh Rugby), Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh Rugby), Pierre Schoeman (Edinburgh Rugby), Sam Skinner (Edinburgh Rugby), Rory Sutherland (Ulster Rugby), George Turner (Glasgow Warriors), Murphy Walker (Glasgow Warriors), Hamish Watson (Edinburgh). Rugby). ).
The back: Mark Bennett (Edinburgh Rugby), Darcy Graham (Edinburgh Rugby), Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby), Adam Hastings (Gloucester Rugby), Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs), George Horne (Glasgow Warriors), Damien Hoyland (Edinburgh Rugby), Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Rugby), Stafford McDowall (Glasgow Warriors), Rufus McLean (Glasgow Warriors), Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors), Cameron Redpath (Bath Rugby), Ollie Smith (Glasgow Warriors), Kyle Steyn (Glasgow Warriors), Ross Thompson (Glasgow Warriors), Sione Tuipulotu (Glasgow Warriors), Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh Rugby), Ben White (London Irish).
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