SCOTLAND HEAD COACH Vern Cotter has selected uncapped 20-year-old Adam Ashe at No. 8 in his starting XV to face South Africa on Saturday [KO 4.00pm Irish time].
While the Springboks have a 20-year-old debutant of their own in out-half Handré Pollard, Ashe’s rise to full international honours has been perhaps less expected than that of the IRB Junior Player of the Year.
The Glasgow Warriors-contracted back row only joined Cotter’s squad last weekend when he travelled from New Zealand, where he is midway through a scholarship programme with the Canterbury RFU International High Performance Unit.
Scotland internationals John Barclay, Grant Gilchrist, Finn Russell and Jonny Gray have all come through the same scholarship, with Ashe clearly reaping similar benefits to those alumni in the past two months spent in New Zealand.
Having come through the age grade sides with Scotland, Ashe was playing at the Junior World Championship [U20] as recently as 2013. Importantly, he has also represented his country extensively in the IRB World Sevens Series.
Ashe has made only two Pro12 appearances for Glasgow in the last two seasons, but Cotter has been impressed by what he has seen from and heard about the No. 8.
He is a talented player and the reports of his form in New Zealand have been very positive,” Cotter told Scottish Rugby. “He’s trained well with us and looked sharp. He is a specialist No. 8 and this is a golden opportunity for him.”
Elsewhere, Henry Pyrgos starts at scrum-half instead of Grayson Hart, Tim Swinson comes in for Gray in the second row, and Chris Fusaro is promoted from the bench to take the place of Blair Cowan.
There may be a second debutant for the Scots on Saturday if Tyrone Holmes is used off the bench. The Glasgow Warriors back row would be making his first international appearance against his native country if that proves the case.
Scotland: Stuart Hogg; Sean Maitland, Nick De Luca, Peter Horne, Tommy Seymour; Duncan Weir, Henry Pyrgos; Al Dickinson, Ross Ford, Geoff Cross; Tim Swinson, Grant Gilchrist (capt.); Rob Harley, Chris Fusaro, Adam Ashe.
Replacements: Kevin Bryce, Moray Low, Euan Murray, Jonny Gray, Tyrone Holmes, Grayson Hart, Dougie Fife, Peter Murchie.