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Scotland without Laidlaw as Cardiff clash falls outside international window

Gregor Townsend has effectively named an Edinburgh-Glasgow select side for Saturday’s game against Wales.

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend.
Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend.
Image: Inpho/Billy Stickland

EDINBURGH HOOKER STUART McInally will lead Scotland out against Wales at Cardiff on Saturday after being named as captain by coach Gregor Townsend in a 23-man matchday squad announced Wednesday.

It will be the second time the 28-year-old McInally has skippered the national side after leading Scotland to a 44-15 win away to Argentina at Resistencia in June in their final match of a tour of the Americas after he missed earlier fixtures on the trip through injury.

Saturday’s match is being played outside World Rugby’s international window so both Scotland and Wales will be unable to select their overseas-based players.

That has ruled out Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw, now at French club Clermont, while injury has sidelined another former captain in John Barclay, with Townsend deciding to retain McInally as skipper.

The window restrictions mean Townsend’s team is effectively an Edinburgh-Glasgow select side.

Only four players who featured in the defeat of the Pumas are retained, with McInally joined by Edinburgh front-rower Allan Dell, while Glasgow out-half Adam Hastings — the son of Scotland great Gavin — and fullback Blair Kinghorn also retain their places.

But there is plenty of experience throughout the Scotland side with five Glasgow backs — wingers Tommy Seymour, Lee Jones, centres Huw Jones and Alex Dunbar, and scrum-half Ali Price all returning to the line-up.

In the pack, back-rows Hamish Watson and Ryan Wilson, lock Jonny Gray and prop Willem Nel, all rested from the Americas tour, have regained their Test positions alongside back-rowers James Ritchie and lock Ben Toolis.

Edinburgh back Darcy Graham has been selected in a Scotland 23 for the first time and could make his debut if he comes off the bench at the Principality Stadium.

“As always we expect a very tough Test match against Wales in Cardiff — a contest that will be physically and technically demanding in a noisy arena,” said former Scotland playmaker Townsend.

“It’s a challenge we look forward to facing.”

Scotland will be looking for their first win in Cardiff since 2002 — when Townsend was at out-half for a 27-22 victory — in a fixture that has proved controversial.

Traditionally, November internationals in Europe have pitted the host nation against a southern hemisphere team.

Critics have accused the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) and their Scottish counterparts of devaluing their annual Six Nations clash — the only time the teams involved usually meet in a year, unless they are facing each other in World Cup competition or warm-ups for the global showpiece.

There were also complaints that spectators had been led into thinking a portion of their ticket money for the Doddie Weir Cup fixture would go towards raising money for the charity of the former Scotland lock, who is suffering from Motor Neurone Disease.

Initially both unions said the fixture was designed to “raise awareness” of MND, but on Monday, following a public outcry, both the WRU and Scottish Rugby Union announced they would donate a joint six-figure sum “directly from the proceeds of Saturday’s fixture” to the My Name’s Doddie Foundation.

Wales, who beat Scotland 34-7 in this year’s Six Nations in Cardiff, were due to name their side on Thursday. 

Scotland (v Wales):

15. Blair Kinghorn
14. Tommy Seymour
13. Huw Jones
12. Alex Dunbar
11. Lee Jones
10. Adam Hastings
9. Ali Price

1. Allan Dell
2. Stuart McInally
3. Willem Nel
4. Ben Toolis
5. Jonny Gray
6. Jamie Ritchie
7. Hamish Watson
8. Ryan Wilson.

Replacements:

16. Fraser Brown
17. Alex Allan
18. Simon Berghan
19. Grant Gilchrist
20. Matt Fagerson
21. George Horne
22. Pete Horne
23. Darcy Graham.

© AFP 2018 

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