Scotland bring in SA-born centre
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Scotland coach Gregor Townsend has made three changes to his team for Sunday’s Six Nations Test against France in Edinburgh, warning they would have to play their “best” rugby to defeat a “galvanised” French team.
Nick Haining replaces Edinburgh clubmate Magnus Bradbury at No8, while Fraser Brown is given the nod over Stuart McInally at hooker, for his 50th cap, and Grant Gilchrist comes in for Ben Toolis at lock.
Worcester flyhalf Duncan Weir could win his first cap since Townsend took over as coach after he was named among the replacements, and in the continued absence of Racing 92 playmaker Finn Russell for breaching team protocol.
Stuart Hogg captains the side from fullback, Sean Maitland and Blair Kinghorn making up the back three. Chris Harris and Sam Johnson pair up in midfield, while Ali Price and Adam Hastings are named at half-back.
Haining is joined in the back row by Hamish Watson and Jamie Ritchie, Gilchrist and Scott Cummings packing down at lock, and Brown propped up by Zander Fagerson and Rory Sutherland in the front row.
South Africa-born centre Kyle Steyn will likely make his Scotland debut from the bench, which also features lock Sam Skinner, who missed out on last year’s Rugby World Cup with a hamstring injury sustained just before the tournament.
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“It’s a special place to play”
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) March 6, 2020
France have notched up three wins so far (England 24-17, Italy 35-22, Wales 27-24) and are the only team in the competition capable of winning the Six Nations Grand Slam.
Scotland lost their opening two games against Ireland (12-19) and England (6-13) before rebounding with a 17-0 win over Italy, and Townsend warned his side of a “galvanised” France team.
“This week we face a France team that looks galvanised since the World Cup, with a potential Grand Slam in their sights,” the former Scotland and British and Irish Lions flyhalf said.
“We have a lot of respect for their coaching team and the quality of player they possess throughout their squad, many of them just in their early stages of their international careers.
“We’re going to have to deliver our best rugby of the championship in order to beat a team in such good form.
“France’s victories have been built on an aggressive and well-organised defence, so the precision, decision-making and effort in our attacking game will have to be very good in order to get in behind them this weekend.”
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg (captain), 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Blair Kinghorn, 10 Adam Hastings, 9 Ali Price, 8 Nick Haining, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Scott Cummings, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Rory Sutherland.
Replacements: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Willem Nel, 19 Sam Skinner, 20 Magnus Bradbury, 21 George Horne, 22 Duncan Weir, 23 Kyle Steyn.
Date: Sunday, March 8
Venue: Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Kick-off: 15.00 (15.00 GMT; 16.00 France time)
Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Frank Murphy (Ireland)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)