GREGOR TOWNSEND has handed Peter Horne the number 10 jersey for Scotland’s trip to Paris to take on France in round three of the Six Nations on Saturday, replacing Finn Russell, who has been ruled out due to a head-knock picked up playing club rugby last Sunday.
Nick Grigg is at outside-centre, Blair Kinghorn is at full-back and Magnus Bradbury is at blind-side flanker for the also injured trio of Huw Jones, Stuart Hogg and Ryan Wilson.
Fit again Zander Fagerson comes onto the bench in place of D’Arcy Rae as tight-head cover, having managed 50 minutes for Glasgow Warriors on Sunday, in his comeback after five months out with an ankle injury. Alex Allan replaced Jamie Bhatti as loose-head cover, Gary Graham has taken over from Rob Harley as back-up in the back-row, Adam Hastings is Horne’s stand-off deputy and Edinburgh starlet Darcy Graham will get an opportunity to pick up his second cap having been called into the squad for the first time since Scotland’s November Test match against Wales.
“Injuries create opportunities for others to show what they can do and, throughout the past couple of seasons, we’ve seen a number of players really step up,” said Townsend. “All of the players coming in started against Argentina in the summer, which ranks as one of our best ever away performances.
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“On top of that there is cohesion forged through familiarity at club level – Magnus [Bradbury] in the back-row lines up with clubmate Jamie Ritchie, and Pete Horne and Nick Grigg are either side of Sam Johnson in the backs.”
“At home, France have played really well in the past two Championships,” he added. “They were 16-0 up at half-time against Wales, and their previous Six Nations games before included a win over England and a last minute defeat to the eventual Irish team that went on to win the Grand Slam.
“They are a very dangerous opponent, combining power, ambition and skill. Their individual talent is outstanding and, when they get things right – which has predominantly been in the Six Nations at home – they’ve played with a real collective spirit and fed off the emotion of the crowd. They will certainly be fired up following their loss at Twickenham.”
“Like France, we too are coming off the back of a defeat and want to show a better picture of ourselves and play closer to our potential. The players invested a huge amount of effort against Ireland and this energy will be essential once again this weekend.”
Scotland (v France at Stasde de France, Saturday, 3.15pm CET/2.15pm GMT): Blair Kinghorn; Tommy Seymour, Nick Grigg, Sam Johnson, Sean Maitland; Pete Horne, Greig Laidlaw; Allan Dell, Stuart McInally, Simon Berghan, Grant Gilchrist, Jonny Gray, Magnus Bradbury, Jamie Ritchie, Josh Strauss. Substitutes: Fraser Brown, Alex Allan, Zander Fagerson, Ben Toolis, Gary Graham, Ali Price, Adam Hastings, Darcy Graham.