Scotland gets star power back for Celtic clash
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Scotland will have one of their most skilful players back for the all-Celtic Six Nations clash with Wales on Saturday.
Stuart Hogg will return to the Scotland starting line-up as Captain for the final round of the 2020 tournament.
Fresh from securing the European and Premiership double with his club Exeter Chiefs, Hogg plays at fullback as one of five changes to the starting XV from the Scotland side that defeated Georgia 48-7 last week.
Finn Russell lines up at flyhalf after winning his 50th Scotland cap in the Georgia victory at Murrayfield last Friday and is joined in the halfbacks by Glasgow Warriors’ Ali Price.
In the back division, Blair Kinghorn shifts to the wing from fullback and replaces Edinburgh teammate Duhan van de Merwe, who is named among the replacements.
James Lang and Chris Harris continue their centre partnership after playing together against Georgia.
In the pack, fellow Exeter Chief Jonny Gray comes into the second row and Scarlets’ Blade Thomson is selected at No.8 and will run out on his club ground on Saturday in Llanelli.
Hooker Fraser Brown is named as vice-captain and packs down with Rory Sutherland and Zander Fagerson in an unchanged front row. Scott Cummings also retains his starting place to partner Gray in the second row.
Edinburgh pair Jamie Ritchie, also a vice-captain, and Hamish Watson make up the back-row with Thomson.
In the replacements, Harlequins scrumhalf Scott Steele could make his Scotland debut if called into action. Adam Hastings and van de Merwe complete the backline replacements.
Scotland coach Gregor Townsend can also call upon the same front row of Oli Kebble, Stuart McInally and Simon Berghan as featured in against Georgia, alongside Worcester Warrior Cornell du Preez and Edinburgh’s Ben Toolis from the bench.
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“It’s been great to bring in quality and experience to our starting line-up with players such as Stuart, Jonny and Finn who have been involved in some high-level games in recent weeks,” Townsend said.
“We were also encouraged by Blade’s display at the weekend for Scarlets, which is a timely boost given last weekend’s injury to Matt Fagerson.
“We are expecting a physical battle against a very good side, one which we will be working hard to stay in the fight and to finish the fight in Llanelli.
“Ultimately, this game provides an opportunity for us to end this extended championship on a positive note and go into the Autumn Nations Cup with some added belief in what this group of players can achieve.”
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg (captain), 14 Darcy Graham, 13 Chris Harris, 12 James Lang, 11 Blair Kinghorn, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ali Price, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Scott Cummings, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Rory Sutherland.
Replacements: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Ben Toolis, 20 Cornell du Preez, 21 Scott Steele, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Duhan van der Merwe.
Date: Saturday, October 31
Venue: Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli
Kick-off: 14.15 (14.15 GMT)
Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Mathieu Raynal (France), Christophe Ridley (England)
TMO: Tom Foley (England)