Italy v Scotland: five changes for Six Nations round four clash in Rome

George Turner, Hamish Watson, Matt Fagerson, Sam Johnson and Kyle Steyn all added to starting XV

Kyle Steyn has been added to Scotland's starting XV. Image: © Craig Watson -
Kyle Steyn has been added to Scotland's starting XV. Image: © Craig Watson -

GREGOR TOWNSEND has made five changes to his starting XV for Saturday’s Six Nations round four clash against Italy in Rome.

In the pack, George Turner swaps in at hooker for Stuart McInally, while Hamish Watson [Covid] and Matt Fagerson [foot injury] return to the back-row in place of the injured Nick Haining and the benched Magnus Bradbury, with Rory Darge swapping from openside for blindside flanker.

Behind the scrum, Sam Johnson is recalled in place of the benched Sione Tuipulotu at inside-centre and Kyle Steyn replaces the suspended Duhan van der Merwe on the left wing.

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Adam Hastings is added to the bench in place of the unavailable Blair Kinghorn having been omitted from the wider training squad for the first three rounds of the championship, and Ben Vellacott is in line for a first cap after taking over from Ben White as scrum-half cover, while Allan Dell is now back-up loose-head following injuries to Rory Sutherland, Jamie Bhatti and Oli Kebble.

Starting scrum-half Ali Price will be making his 50th international appearance.


Scotland (v Italy at Stadio Olimpico in Rome on Saturday @ 2.15pm): S Hogg©; D Graham, C Harris, S Johnson, K Steyn; F Russell (VC), A Price; P Schoeman, G Turner, Z Fagerson, S Skinner, G Gilchrist (VC), R Darge, H Watson, M Fagerson.

Replacements: S McInally, A Dell, W Nel, J Hodgson, M Bradbury, B Vellacott, A Hastings, S Tiupulotu.

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About David Barnes 4028 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. Not a single prolific try scorer (except Kyle Steyn 3 caps 4 tries) in the team.
    A real shame that Huw Jones has had a short time in the Scotland XV…

  2. How both Huw Jones and Mark Bennett can be continually overlooked in the midfield (or even off the bench) is baffling. Harris is a good honest player with solid defence to his name, but he has very little attacking prowess which was amply demonstrated by the complete mess he made of that break against France with the wrong pass/wrong decision. Is his contribution to our overall defence that important I ask, when it means we effectively diminish our midfield as an attacking threat? I am not so sure, especially given the number of tries we leaked last time round against the French

  3. It doesn’t matter any more. Russell/ Hogg/ Townsend = empty trophy cabinet.

  4. Furthermore, it’s a team picked for speed not power fine if we can get Finn and Hoggy in space or we play the game in their 22 but if they are all to spoil (which they have done before) and then turn the game into an arm wrestle…………

    • If my memory serves me right Harris was left out of the side last season against Italy & Huw Jones broke through the Italian defence at will. Surely Bennett or a similar attacking midfielder would have been better option, hope I’m proved wrong but get the feeling Townsend struggling taking this squad forward.

  5. Good squad but it’s disappointing to see Bennett isn’t in the squad after being one of a few to earn pass marks against France.

  6. A much sharper cutting edge is required in midfield, particularly as points difference will be crucial in separating third from fifth this year – and a bonus point is a must. Hutchinson and Bennett would have been the slickest of the pairings available and would have lit up our three quarter line. But I fear I will have to wait for another coach before we see the superb Northampton man in a Scotland jersey. This is certainly not a game for Harris, whose defensive qualities will be in far less demand than a swift rapier thrust going forwards. Such a waste – the worst wounds are self-inflicted.

  7. Good team, glad to see Johnson back, his distribution is far better than he’s given credit for and he’ll make his tackles unlike the much vaunted Hutchinson, who couldn’t tackle the proverbial fish supper.

  8. Agree with most of the above-only just noticed though that “Kinghorn is unavailable” (injury? covid?) so the option for him at 11 or on the bench is irrelevant now. (and explains perhaps why Thomson was training as well).

    • If that’s the case re BK then I’ll retract part of my earlier rant, (Hastings a superb 10 or 15 anyway) however…….. I like Sam Johnson a very effective and understated player but to partner him you need (imo) Huw Jones or Mark Bennett or Hutchinson (we should extol his imagination and flair rather than denigrate his supposed weaknesses). IF Italy can disrupt us and we are not quite on our game……… Hogg should be practicing his 50 22s

  9. Have to say although I share John Martin’s thoughts the gap Kinghorn went through was huge and from memory at least one of the opposition players was a front 5 forward.
    Italy will be desperate to turn up well at home especially after the farce in Dublin, either Ireland butchered a host of chances or the Italian 13 [12] were exemplary in not rolling over.
    With that in mind we need to be very solid in defence from the get go hopefully the XV and Bench will win and hopefully win well, but it will not be a given of that I am sure.

    • I get your point George but at least he went through a gap and thereafter in the Connacht game Kinghorn showed he is a confident young man in good form. He is not the finished article but its harsh he’s been dropped. Italy will give this game a real lash as they know they have a genuine chance. Saturday will be eventful and interesting

      • Agree with your points, it was more an observation than a critique and my thoughts are the same the Italians seem fitter and better prepared than they have been.

  10. Blair Kinghorn should be on wing in place of Stien.Russell should be given another chance but subbed early if not playing as he can do.

  11. It’s OK being bloody minded if your bloody minded decisions result in success / positive outcomes………
    Everyone can see lack of a “ball player” in the centres is hurting us but nothing done to rectify this. (Both Johnson and Harris solid citizens, Bennett exactly the player to add the spark)
    Blair Kinghorn playing superbly for Edinburgh and creating a try for DVDM v France in his short time he was on – dropped.
    Good on Kyle Steyn he deserves it.
    Win well and GT has been somewhat vindicated but…………

    • Would like to have seen Hutchinson tried at 12. Finn needs someone else to share the burden of play maker and kicking. Without Redpath, none of the other 12s fit the bill. Handling of Hastings seems bizarre, unless there is something we are not hearing about. Good squad though and glad he’s not been experimental.

      • Agree with most of the above-only just noticed though that “Kinghorn is unavailable” (injury? covid?) so the option for him at 11 or on the bench is irrelevant now. (and explains perhaps why Thomson was training as well).

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