Hogg recovers fast to play for Scotland against Fiji

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Scotland's Alex Dunbar, left, and Wales' Hadleigh Parkes during the rugby union international match at The Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Wales, Saturday Nov. 3, 2018. (David Davies/PA via AP)

Scotland's Alex Dunbar, left, and Wales' Hadleigh Parkes during the rugby union international match at The Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Wales, Saturday Nov. 3, 2018. (David Davies/PA via AP) (Photo: David Davies)

EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) — Stuart Hogg has completed a remarkable recovery from ankle surgery to be starting for Scotland against Fiji on Saturday at Murrayfield.

The British Lions fullback has not played since damaging ligaments in late September. He was ruled out for 10-12 weeks, and was expected to miss Scotland's four tests this month.

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend decided on Thursday to throw him straight back into action in a side revamped after losing to Wales 21-10 last weekend in Cardiff.

Among the nine changes were the return of scrumhalf Greig Laidlaw, back as captain for the first time under Townsend, flyhalf Finn Russell, and wing Sean Maitland.

Former England Under-20s lock Sam Skinner will make his debut, after qualifying through his Scottish father.

Hooker Fraser Brown, lock Grant Gilchrist, No. 8 Matt Fagerson, and center Pete Horne were promoted to the starting XV after performing well off the bench in Cardiff.

"(Fiji) score more tries than any team in the world off turnover ball, about 66 percent, whereas most teams are under about 10 or 15 percent, so if you repeatedly give them turnover ball it'll be a tough afternoon," Townsend said.

"We have to be physical and accurate, play to our strengths and put them under pressure in areas they don't want to go into, to make sure the game is open for us but not for them."

Scotland lost to Fiji 27-22 in June last year in Suva.

"That counts for nothing here," Fiji coach John McKee said. "Anything less (than our best game) will not be good enough against this good Scotland team."

McKee has picked a starting lineup with all but one based overseas, and a debut for Clermont fullback Setareki Tuicuvu.

New captain Dominiko Waqaniburotu can lean on the likes of outstanding locks Leone Nakarawa and Tevita Cavubati, Leicester prop Campese Ma'afu, Clermont back-rower Peceli Yato, and No. 8 Viliame Mata, who will be facing four of his Edinburgh clubmates.

Only scrumhalf Frank Lomani in the backline doesn't play for a top club, but he featured for the Drua which won the Australian championship two weeks ago.

The backline breathes class, from flyhalf Ben Volavola to wing Vereniki Goneva, who scored a try against Scotland at Murrayfield nine years ago.

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Scotland: Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Alex Dunbar, Pete Horne, Sean Maitland, Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw (captain); Matt Fagerson, Jamie Ritchie, Ryan Wilson, Grant Gilchrist, Sam Skinner, Willem Nel, Fraser Brown, Allan Dell. Reserves: Stuart McInally, Alex Allan, Simon Berghan, Jonny Gray, Josh Strauss, George Horne, Adam Hastings, Chris Harris.

Fiji: Setariki Tuicuvu, Metuisela Talebula, Semi Radradra, Jale Vatabua, Vereniki Goneva, Ben Volavola, Frank Lomani; Viliame Mata, Peceli Yato, Dominiko Waqaniburotu (captain), Leone Nakarawa, Tevita Cavubati, Manasa Saulo, Sam Matavesi, Campese Maafu. Reserves: Mesulame Dolokoto, Eroni Mawi, Kalivate Tawake, Albert Tuisue, Semi Kunatani, Henry Seniloli, Alivereti Veitokani, Eroni Vasiteri.

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