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Australian centre to make Scots Test debut

Former Melbourne schoolboy and ex-Rebel Sione Tuipulotu could be in line to take on the Wallabies after being named to make his Test debut for Scotland against Tonga.

The 24-year-old will start at centre in Gregor Townsend’s line-up for the match at Murrayfield on Saturday (Sunday AEDT).

Scotland host Australia at the same venue a week later.

Tuipulotu qualified for Scottish selection through his grandmother, who emigrated to Melbourne from Glasgow.

“I’m really close with my grandma and she has a thick Scottish accent so I always knew I was Scottish,” he told theoffsideline.com.

“I really wanted to play Test footy for a country where I have heritage.”

Tuipulotu grew up in Frankston and attended Melbourne rugby nursery St Kevins, while he also played for Australia at schoolboys and under-20 level.

Signed out of school, in 2016 he became the first Victorian to play for the Melbourne Rebels and made 11 appearances but failed to nail down a starting role.

In 2019 he took up a contract in Japan and was then lured to the Glasgow Warriors by Townsend earlier this year.

“I think in that period when I was at the Rebels and not playing regularly, I lost my love for the game a bit, and then when I went to Japan I re-found it completely,” said Tuipulotu, who has a younger brother Mosese at the Waratahs.

“I went into my last season in Japan kind of weighing up whether to stay in Japan, go back to Australia or come over to Scotland, and I’m really glad I made the decision to come over to Scotland.”

Townsend has included four debutants in his starting XV to face Tonga – Glasgow pair Tuipulotu and Rufus McLean and Edinburgh duo Jamie Hodgson and Pierre Schoeman.

“Sione’s a really creative player,” Townsend said.

“He likes to get others into the game but he’s also got his own power and acceleration.

“He can be a real connector between the midfield and the back three.”

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