Scotland opt for new halfback pairing against England
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has named his squad to face England in the opening fixture of the 2023 Six Nations this Saturday.
The Scotland team will be out to retain the Calcutta Cup.
Leading his side in the championship for the first time, blindside flank Jamie Ritchie is joined at openside by Luke Crosbie, whose excellent recent form is rewarded with a second start for Scotland, with Matt Fagerson completing the back row.
In the second row, the experienced Richie Gray and Grant Gilchrist resume a partnership that impressed during last year’s November Nations Series.
Pierre Schoeman starts at loosehead prop in what is the 17th consecutive international since his 2021 debut, with the evergreen Willem Nel – who reached 50 caps in November – selected at tighthead and George Turner named at hooker.
In the back division, scrumhalf Ben White will link up with flyhalf Finn Russell, a year on from his try-scoring debut in the Calcutta Cup at Murrayfield.
Sione Tuipulotu and Huw Jones are named as a centre pairing, the former having scored his first tries for Scotland in November’s win over Argentina, with the latter having notched no fewer than four tries against England in as many games against them.
In the back three, Scotland’s record try-scorer Stuart Hogg continues at fullback, with Duhan van der Merwe and Kyle Steyn lining up on the wings.
Townsend has selected a bench with a 5-3 split between forwards and backs, with Glasgow Warriors clubmates Fraser Brown, Jamie Bhatti, Simon Berghan and Jack Dempsey, alongside Jonny Gray, listed as pack replacements. George Horne, Blair Kinghorn and Chris Harris complete the matchday squad as substitute options.
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Kyle Steyn, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Sione Tuipulotu, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ben White, 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Luke Crosbie, 6 Jamie Ritchie (captain), 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Willem Nel, 2 George Turner, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Jamie Bhatti, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Jonny Gray, 20 Jack Dempsey, 21 George Horne, 22 Blair Kinghorn, 23 Chris Harris.
Date: Saturday, February 4
Venue: Twickenham Stadium, London
Kick-off: 16.45 (16.45 GMT)
Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand) & James Doleman (New Zealand)
TMO: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)