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Scotland Side Shows Three Changes

Scotland Side Shows Three Changes

Scotland head coach Vern Cotter has made three personnel changes to the team to play Ireland in Saturday’s opening RBS 6 Nations match at a sold-out BT Murrayfield (kick-off 2.25pm).

Stormers centre Huw Jones is back in the starting line-up in place of Mark Bennett, having recovered from the foot injury that ruled him out of Scotland’s third and final November Test against Georgia.

Jones hit the headlines when he became the first Scot to score a brace of tries against Australia in his first start for Scotland before being injured in the act of creating a try for Sean Maitland against Argentina a week later.

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Jones will reform the midfield partnership he forged in those two Tests with Alex Dunbar, in between returning half-backs Greig Laidlaw and Finn Russell, and the back-three trio of Stuart Hogg, Maitland and Tommy Seymour, who contributed half of Scotland’s 10-try tally in the autumn.

The remaining changes are in a pack which sees Glasgow Warriors hooker Fraser Brown promoted from the bench in place of centurion Ross Ford and back rower Josh Strauss replaces his Warriors club-mate Rob Harley.

Strauss’ inclusion at number 8 sees Ryan Wilson make a positional switch to blindside flanker, with Hamish Watson holding down the openside role he occupied throughout the autumn.

Second row brothers Jonny and Richie Gray return to the engine room with young props Allan Dell and Zander Fagerson packing down either side of Brown in the front row.

Head coach Vern Cotter said: “Although it’s a reasonably settled squad, it’s nice to have an uncapped player and some reasonably new players in the team, who bring their enthusiasm along with the others.

“We’ve been growing our depth and our versatility within that, so we have a number of different options that allow us to continually attack the opposition, which is our main focus.”

He added: “Facing Ireland first up doesn’t get much harder. They are at the top of their game and will come here with confidence after beating some of the best teams in the world, including the All Blacks and Wallabies and having won the tournament twice in the past three years.”

There are four further changes to the bench, with Edinburgh tighthead Simon Berghan in line to make his debut if called upon. Elsewhere, Tim Swinson, Duncan Weir and Bennett also come in for Grant Gilchrist and injured Warriors pair Peter Horne and Rory Hughes.

SCOTLAND Team & Replacements (v Ireland, 2017 RBS 6 Nations Championship, BT Murrayfield, Saturday, February 4, kick-off 2.25pm):

Player/Club/Caps –

15. Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors) 48
14. Sean Maitland (Saracens) 26
13. Huw Jones (Stormers) 3
12. Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors) 19
11. Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors) 31
10. Finn Russell (Glasgow Warriors) 22
9. Greig Laidlaw (Gloucester) 56 (capt)
1. Allan Dell (Edinburgh) 3
2. Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) 20
3. Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) 4
4. Richie Gray (Toulouse) 60
5. Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors) 28
6. Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors) 23
7. Hamish Watson (Edinburgh) 5
8. Josh Strauss (Glasgow Warriors) 9


16. Ross Ford (Edinburgh) 102
17. Gordon Reid (Glasgow Warriors) 19
18. Simon Berghan (Edinburgh) *
19. Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors) 25
20. John Barclay (Scarlets) 55
21. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) 1
22. Duncan Weir (Edinburgh) 23
23. Mark Bennett (Glasgow Warriors) 17

* Denotes uncapped player