Phil Mack and Nick Blevins will mark a milestone Saturday, earning their 50th caps when Canada hosts Scotland in an international rugby test match at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium.
But coach Kingsley Jones will be without star forward Tyler Ardron and versatile back Gord McRorie. Ardron, who can play at lock or in the back row, failed concussion protocol from a head blow sustained playing for the Chiefs in New Zealand.
McRorie, who can play scrum half or fly half, injured his ankle in training this week.
“For us it’s almost like losing two players in one, the ability to play [No.] 9 and 10,” Jones said of McRorie, who can also handle kicking duties.
Mack, a former team captain, starts at scrum half in McRorie’s absence, while Luke Campbell draws in at No. 8.
Captain DTH van der Merwe, Canada’s all-time leading try-scorer, and Jeff Hassler provide punch on the wing. Shane O’Leary starts at fly half with 22-year-old UBC standoff Theo Sauder possibly making his test debut off the bench.
The hard-running Blevins starts at inside centre with the versatile Patrick Parfrey at fullback.
The Scottish touring side is missing some big names with Six Nations captain John Barclay, star fly half Finn Russell, scrum half Greig Laidlaw and lock Jonny Gray among those left at home. Richie Gray, Huw Jones, Hamish Watson and W.P. Nel are injured.
Still the Scots are a fully professional side, unlike Canada. Edinburgh lock Grant Gilchrist, winning his 23rd cap, captains the tourists.
Canada has the edge in experience with 341 caps spread out among its starting 15. The Scottish starters have just 177 combined caps with 10 players yet to reach double digits in test appearances.
The Scots are no strangers to each other, however. Seventeen of the match day 23 play for either Edinburgh or the Glasgow Warriors.
Commonwealth Stadium hosted the men’s Churchill Cup fixtures in 2004, 2005 and 2006 as well as the final, third-place and fifth-place matches in the 2006 Women’s Rugby World Cup.