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Robbie Stephenson/INPHO Hamish Watson leads out Edinburgh last week.
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Hamish Watson returns to Scotland side for France clash
Watson sat out the opening two matches against Wales and England as he had been short of game time since the autumn due to concussion issues.

Hamish Watson will replace his Edinburgh team-mate Luke Crosbie in the only change to Scotland’s starting XV for Sunday’s Guinness Six Nations showdown with France in Paris.

Gregor Townsend has kept faith with the majority of the team that began the emphatic victory over Wales at BT Murrayfield a fortnight ago, but Crosbie has dropped out of the 23-man squad altogether.

Watson, a member of the 2021 British and Irish Lions squad, has been a regular starter for the national team but sat out the opening two matches against Wales and England as he had been short of game time since the autumn due to concussion issues.

“We think Hamish is back to full fitness, he’s played with real speed in his two games back for Edinburgh,” Townsend said.

“We obviously know what Hamish has done for us in the past and in recent games too.

“He’s got this opportunity which we know he’ll go and grab with two hands.” 

Changes were always expected to be kept a minimum, although it had been speculated that Blair Kinghorn, who came off the bench against the Welsh to make a positive, try-scoring impact, might get the nod over Stuart Hogg who was forced off early with a head injury.

Hogg has been passed fit to play, however, and the Exeter full-back retains the number 15 jersey, with Kinghorn again listed among the substitutes.

Glasgow scrum-half Ali Price and Edinburgh lock Sam Skinner, who have not been in the match-day 23 for either Six Nations match, have both been named among the replacements.

Price, a regular starter throughout Townsend’s reign, was a notable omission for the first two matches of the campaign after a dip in form, but he has been restored to the squad at the expense of his fellow Glasgow scrum-half George Horne, who drops out.

“He’s been excellent in training,” Townsend said of Price.

“It was disappointing for him to go from a starter in all our games in November to not making the 23.

“We felt at the weekend when he went back to play for Glasgow he made a big impact off the bench.”  

Gloucester centre Chris Harris, another regular of recent seasons, has not made the 23 after being a substitute in the first two matches.

- Updated with Gregor Townsend quotes.

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