Bradford Bulls hooker Ian Henderson, Huddersfield Giants prop Paul Jackson and Featherstone Rovers utility Jamie Benn are all expected to start with London Skolars youngster Keir Bell and St Albans Centurions centre Dene Miller on the bench.
Henderson takes over from brother Andrew in the Scotland squad after a domestic issue forced the Castleford Tigers star to withdraw his availability for selection and head back to Australia for the off-season. It will be the first Scotland side to appear without him since the win in France in July 2001.
Thurso-born Bell has played for Scotland at junior level for the past four years while Miller and Benn came through the Scotland A squad this summer. Former Scotland Rugby Union internationalists Jon Steel and Gareth Morton – team-mates at Hull KR – are included. Left out are Fife Lions’ full-back Andy Brown, St Albans prop Nick Surtees and 20-year-old Glasgow Bulls second-rower Kevin Lang who must wait for his debut.
Sunday’s encounter is the first leg of the tie with the winners going straight to the 2008 World Cup in Australia. The return leg will be in Glasgow in October 2007.
“Although it’s only the first leg we have to deal with it as a one-off game,” said Scotland coach Steve McCormack. “The only main difference to a group or league match is that every point will count, in defence and attack. But that will only really come into it towards the end of the game. We are just going out there to win and we’ll deal with the second leg next year.”
The runners-up will play-off against Samoa plus either USA or Japan and either Ireland, Lebanon or Russia. USA play Japan and Lebanon play Russia on today (28 September).
Scotland team to play Wales: Wade Liddell, Jon Steel, Mick Nanyn, Iain Marsh, Dene Miller, Dave McConnell, Danny Brough, Paul Jackson, Ian Henderson, Neil Lowe, Spencer Miller, Richard Fletcher, Jamie Benn, Keir Bell, Ian Sinfield, Gareth Morton, Ben Fisher.