Russell to pivot full-strength Scotland against France
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Head Coach Gregor Townsend has made four changes to his starting XV for Scotland’s final Six Nations match against France at Stade de France, Paris, on Friday.
Finn Russell and Ali Price return to form the halfbacks, with Chris Harris selected at centre and hooker George Turner also returning to the starting line-up.
Captain Stuart Hogg moves to his more familiar role at full-back having played at stand-off in the record win over Italy at BT Murrayfield on Saturday, with try scorers from that game, Darcy Graham and Duhan van der Merwe, again lining up on the wing.
Sam Johnson partners Harris in the centres with Huw Jones providing cover from the bench alongside Scott Steele and Adam Hastings, who is poised for his first involvement of the championship following his return from injury.
Turner’s return sees the hooker pack down with Rory Sutherland at loosehead and Zander Fagerson at tighthead, with Grant Gilchrist and Sam Skinner combining again in the second row.
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Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson and Matt Fagerson comprise the back row for the fourth time this championship.
Hooker David Cherry, who scored a brace of tries against Italy, is joined by Oli Kebble and Simon Berghan as front row cover, with last week’s debutant Alex Craig and Nick Haining offering further forward options from the bench.
Head Coach Gregor Townsend said: “The match against France provides us with an opportunity to finish the Six Nations in our highest position in its history.
“This is a great opportunity for us to take on France, at home in Paris, as they also look to end the championship on a high.
“Both teams have needed to manage a short six-day turnaround and we have used this week to regroup and focus on putting in our best performance of the competition so far, which we will need to deliver if we are to leave Paris with a victory.
“As a group we have faced several challenges throughout this Six Nations, it has brought us closer together, and I know the players are motivated and looking forward to representing their country again on Friday.”
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg (captain), 14 Darcy Graham, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ali Price, 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Sam Skinner, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 George Turner, 1 Rory Sutherland.
Replacements: 16 David Cherry, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Alex Craig, 20 Nick Haining, 21 Scott Steele, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Huw Jones
Date: Friday, March 26
Venue: Stade France, Paris
Kick-off: 21.00 (20.00 UK, 20.00 GMT)
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant Referee: Matthew Carley (England) & Andrea Piardi (Italy)
TMO: Tom Foley (England)