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Gray in, Denton out as Scotland make their way to rumble in Rome

Interim coach Scott Johnson is keeping us guessing with these starting line-ups.

Image: PA Archive/Press Association Images

SCOTLAND HAVE RECALLED Richie Gray for their potential wooden spoon decider against Italy in Rome on Saturday.

The Lions lock only came on as a second-half replacement in Scotland’s opening 28-6 defeat by Ireland and was omitted completely from the matchday 23 that suffered an embarrassing 20-0 loss to England at Murrayfield last time out.

But the Castres second row is back in the starting line-up for a match against an Italy side who, like Scotland, have lost their opening two fixtures of this Six Nations, albeit the Azzurri have scored three tries to the Scots’ none.

“I’m delighted to be back,” the 6ft 9in Gray told scottishrugby.org in a statement after the team was announced today.

“I think I speak for all the players in the fact we’re looking forward to going out and putting in a performance. I was not involved against England but I think the guys were pretty down and they did not manage to show what they can do.

“So I think this weekend it’s really about showing what we can do.”

Scotland boss Scott Johnson has made three changes to his starting side, all up front, with Scott Lawson and Johnnie Beattie joining Gray in the pack.

Under-fire Australian coach Johnson said the aim of the changes was to secure better ball.

Scott Lawson, who replaced Ross Ford early in the second half of the England match after his fellow hooker struggled with his line-out throwing, now starts in the front row while Beattie is in at No 8, with David Denton — one of the Scots’ better performers against England — surprisingly dropped to the bench.

“We’ve made the changes to the pack with a view to improving the supply and quality of possession,” Johnson explained.

Arm wrestle

“Italy are formidable opponents, especially in Rome, and Scotland’s matches against them in recent years have been a real arm wrestle.

“We’re all hurting at the results of the first two games but the players we’ve chosen have the chance to do something that can make our supporters proud this weekend,” he added.

Scotland team to play Italy in a Six Nations international at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico on Saturday (1330 GMT kick-off):

Scotland XV (v Italy): Stuart Hogg; Tommy Seymour, Alex Dunbar, Matt Scott, Sean Lamont; Duncan Weir, Greig Laidlaw (capt): Ryan Grant, Scott Lawson, Moray Low; Richie Gray, Jim Hamilton; Ryan Wilson, Chris Fusaro, Johnnie Beattie.

Replacements: Ross Ford, Alasdair Dickinson, Geoff Cross, Tim Swinson, David Denton, Chris Cusiter, Duncan Taylor, Max Evans

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