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Page last updated at 15:03 GMT, Monday, 9 November 2009

Cusiter leads Scots against Fiji

Scotland v Fiji, autumn Test
Venue: Murrayfield Date: Saturday 14 November Kick-off: 1430 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One Scotland from 1400 GMT, BBC Radio Scotland and BBC Sport website


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Robinson has been pleased with Scotland's preparation

Scotland coach Andy Robinson has chosen Chris Cusiter as captain for the first of the autumn Tests against Fiji at Murrayfield on Saturday.

Robinson, taking charge of his first full Test for Scotland, said last week that scrum-halves Cusiter and Mike Blair would vie for the captaincy.

Worcester centre Alex Grove will make his debut, while prop Moray Low will make his first start at home.

But there is no place in the side for record points-scorer Chris Paterson.

The versatile Edinburgh back finds himself on the bench, along with Blair and Clermont flanker Jason White.

Cusiter returned to play his club rugby for Glasgow Warriors after a period at French side Perpignan and led Scotland A to IRB Nations Cup success in Romania in June.

Chris Cusiter as captain; I think he's a had a great impact with Glasgow Warriors this year

Scotland coach Andy Robinson

Blair had been captain of the full international side since replacing Jason White in 2008.

There are 10 changes in personnel from the Scotland team that started the team's last international against England at Twickenham in March, with brothers Rory and Sean Lamont among those coming into the line-up, the former at the expense of Paterson.

Robinson, who was appointed in June, said: "We have selected a side that's full of power, that has the pace but also has the skill level to break down the Fijians.

"Fiji are above us in the IRB rankings. They are a very dangerous team to play against.

"They are a very strong, powerful side who also hit very hard. We have to match fire with fire."

Robinson insisted he had not started a Scotland revolution despite making 10 changes to the last side picked by his predecessor, Frank Hadden.

"This is about picking a side to perform against Fiji and we look at this as a 22," he said.

"The guys that haven't been selected that are on the bench, they've got an impact to make as well.

Grove is pleasantly surprised at start

"It's about the whole squad and how that works.

"It's a team to play Fiji and win the game and the key for us is that we understand that rugby is a physical game; you have to win the collisions, you have to establish a go-forward."

Robinson said that good form meant there were many difficult decision to make.

"It's a tough team pick; there's a real competition for places, and a number of 50-50 calls that had to be made," he said.

"It's looking at the balance of the squad, looking at how we're going to put combinations together.

"I've been pleased with the way that Sean Lamont has performed for the Scarlets, but also Rory at Toulon, both going to new clubs.

"Chris Cusiter as captain; I think he's a had a great impact with Glasgow Warriors this year.

"It's been tough for him because he's had a number of injuries at times and a bit of illness, but when he's performed, he's been right up there."

Explaining what gave Cusiter - who has yet to lead his country - the nod over Blair, who had been sole captain for the last year and a half, Robinson said: "At times, you look at the team you're playing against.

"But also, these calls are very close; I've got to pick one of these guys and I felt that it was right to start with Chris.

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"He has been very consistent this year and I've enjoyed watching the way that he's run with the ball as well."

With the talismanic Paterson on the bench, the onus will be on fly-half Phil Godman to translate his Edinburgh form on to the international stage.

"Phil's had a good record for Scotland - 81% in the Magners League last year and I've been pleased with the times he's goal-kicked at international level," said Robinson.

"It's about Phil stepping up and obviously Chris will have an impact at some stage in the game."

The other big surprise was the absence of Glasgow wing Thom Evans from the 22.

Robinson explained that, once he had decided Evans was not going to start, he wanted more versatility on the bench.

"Chris Paterson covers 10 and 15 and Nick de Luca will be covering 12 and 13 and the wing," said the coach.

Robinson was unable to call upon the services of Ben Cairns, Alasdair Dickinson, Max Evans, Jim Hamilton, Ruaridh Jackson and Euan Murray because of injury.

Scotland kick-off their autumn Test series against Fiji at 2.30pm at Murrayfield on 14 November, before facing Australia and Argentina on the following two Saturdays.


Scotland team to play Fiji: Rory Lamont (Toulon), Sean Lamont (Scarlets), Alex Grove (Worcester Warriors), Graeme Morrison (Glasgow Warriors), Simon Danielli (Ulster), Phil Godman (Edinburgh), Chris Cusiter (Glasgow Warriors), Allan Jacobsen (Edinburgh), Ross Ford (Edinburgh), Moray Low (Glasgow Warriors), Nathan Hines (Leinster), Alastair Kellock (Glasgow Warriors), Alasdair Strokosch (Gloucester), Johnnie Beattie (Glasgow Warriors), John Barclay (Glasgow Warriors).
Replacements: Dougie Hall (Glasgow Warriors), Kyle Traynor (Edinburgh), Jason White (Clermont Auvergne), Richie Vernon (Glasgow Warriors), Mike Blair (Edinburgh), Chris Paterson (Edinburgh), Nick De Luca (Edinburgh)



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see also
New era dawns for Scots
09 Nov 09 |  Scottish
Scots duo relish shared captaincy
06 Nov 09 |  Scottish
Paterson back training with Scots
04 Nov 09 |  Scottish
Blair and Cusiter share captaincy
02 Nov 09 |  Scottish


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