Scotland's Finn Russell is one of the survivors from the loss to Australia in the World Cup quarter-final in 2015.
Scotland's Finn Russell is one of the survivors from the loss to Australia in the World Cup quarter-final in 2015. WILL OLIVER

Scottish coach confident of toppling Wallabies

A YEAR after England used a series victory in Australia as a springboard to assert themselves as a world power, Scotland coach Gregor Townsend says beating the Wallabies in Sydney would be a similarly "huge boost" for Scottish rugby.

Townsend expressed confidence about rolling the Australian team at Allianz Stadium on Saturday afternoon despite making eight changes to his starting team from the side that beat Italy last weekend.

Star lock Jonny Gray - who was contentiously overlooked for Lions duties - returns in a pack that also features a new front-row and a re-shuffled back row with Hamish Watson at no.7.

In the backline, there is a new centre pairing of Duncan Taylor and Alex Dunbar, and a new fullback Greig Tonks. 

Veteran hooker Ross Ford will equal Chris Paterson's 109-Test cap record from the bench.

Townsend explained the mass changes by saying he wanted to use the trip south to look at new players.

"It's a tour and what we don't want to come back from your and say we took 34 players and only used 25," Townsend said.

"You want to be able to see which players can perform at Test level and give them that opportunity."

But with attacking no.10 Finn Russell still running the show, the Scots aren't running up a white flag under the guise of development. 

They're not only keen to emulate England's feats last year, they believe they have the firepower to beat Australia too.

Australia has beaten Scotland by a single point in their last two encounters.

"It'd be great if we were to win it, it would be a huge boost to the platers and Scottish rugby as a whole," Townsend said.

"We are playing the Wallabies in Australia and they're full strength. It's a great challenge for guys, we believe we can win. If we do it will be fantastic."

The return of Gray will add plenty of industry to an already hard-working forward pack.

The brother of injured star Richie, Gray is known for his incredible consistency. He missed just one tackle of 85 in last year's Six Nations.

"We have managed him for a reason to make sure he is ready to go for this game," Townsend said.

"He has been a key player for Scotland for the last two or three seasons and he is in great form." 

Scotland team to take on the Wallabies

1. Gordon Reid, 2. Fraser Brown, 3. Zander Fagerson, 4. Ben Toolis, 5. Jonny Gray, 6. John Barclay, 7. Hamish Watson, 8. Ryan Wilson, 9. Ali Price, 10. Finn Russell, 11. Rory Hughes, 12. Duncan Taylor, 13. Alex Dunbar, 14. Lee Jones, 15. Greig Tonks Reserves: 16. Ross Ford, 17. Alan Dell, 18. Willem Nell, 19. Tim Swinson, 20. Josh Strauss, 21. Henry Pyrgos, 22. Ruardin Jackson, 23. Matt Scott