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Three changes for a Scottish side in pursuit of their first Six Nations win

Gregor Townsend’s team will kick off the weekend’s action against Italy on Saturday afternoon.

The Scotland team pictured before their recent Six Nations defeat to England at Murrayfield.
The Scotland team pictured before their recent Six Nations defeat to England at Murrayfield.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

SCOTLAND HEAD COACH Gregor Townsend has unveiled his team for Saturday’s meeting with Italy in Rome [KO 2.15pm, Virgin Media One].

The Scots will be bidding for their first victory of this year’s Six Nations, having had to settle for losing bonus points in their meetings with Ireland and England.

Townsend has made three changes in personnel from the side that started the 13-6 loss at the hands of the English at Murrayfield last time out.

Edinburgh duo Stuart McInally and Ben Toolis have both been drafted into the pack. McInally replaces Fraser Brown at hooker, while Toolis comes into the second row to deputise for the injured Jonny Gray.

The other change comes at centre, where Gloucester’s Chris Harris has been given the nod ahead of Huw Jones to partner Sam Johnson.

“We believe Chris [Harris] and Stuart [McInally] deserve this opportunity,” Gregor Townsend said. “They were very close to the starting 15 when we entered this campaign. We think this is the right time for them to come in.

“Chris has been excellent for Gloucester this season and has continued to make improvements since the summer. He works very hard on both sides of the ball, which will be important this week.

“Stuart [McInally] has shown over the past few weeks he’s back to full fitness and is raring to go and Ben gets an opportunity to start following Jonny’s injury against England.”

The Scotland boss added: “Italy are always a very tough opponent, especially in Rome, where we know they’ll look to play with a huge amount of energy.

“It’s a different Italy team to the one we’ve played in the past. In their opening two games of the championship they have played with real ambition and width. They’ve also selected athletic, ball players who suit this strategy and are comfortable playing at a high tempo.

“We are well aware of the threats throughout their team and how their attacking game can cause problems for any defence.”

Italy, who have yet to pick up a point, will name their team tomorrow.

Scotland (v Italy):

15. Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs — captain)
14. Sean Maitland (Saracens)
13. Chris Harris (Gloucester)
12. Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors)
11. Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh)
10. Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors)
9. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors)

1. Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh)
2. Stuart McInally (Edinburgh)
3. Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors)
4. Ben Toolis (Edinburgh)
5. Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors)
6. Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh)
7. Hamish Watson (Edinburgh)
8. Magnus Bradbury (Edinburgh)

Replacements:

16. Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors)
17. Allan Dell (London Irish)
18. Willem Nel (Edinburgh)
19. Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh)
20. Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors)
21. George Horne (Glasgow Warriors)
22. Rory Hutchinson (Northampton Saints)
23. Byron McGuigan (Sale Sharks)

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Paul Dollery

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