SCOTLAND head coach Gregor Townsend has made five changes to the starting XV and brought three new faces onto the bench, ahead of Saturday’s visit to Murrayfield by France.
An ankle injury to Rory Sutherland meant Townsend had to promote Oli Kebble into the starting side in an all-new front row, with Jamie Bhatti elevated to the bench despite having only two matches and 25 minutes of competitive rugby under his belt since the end of lockdown.
Fraser Brown has recovered from the head knock which kept him out against Italy last week and starts as vice-captain at hooker ahead of Stuart McInally, who drops out the squad altogether.
And Simon Berghan comes back into the squad to start at tight-head with Zander Fagerson dropping to the bench, and WP Nel missing out.
With Jamie Ritchie having also recovered from the head knock that he picked up against Italy, the only other change in the pack is at No8, where Matt Fagerson replaces Blade Thomson, who in turn nudges Nick Haining off the bench.
Behind the scrum, Blair Kinghorn replaces Edinburgh club-mate Darcy Graham on the left wing. The rest of the backline is retained from the Italy game, although Saracens duo Duncan Taylor – who was never officially been named in the training squad – and Sean Maitland will cover numbers 11 through to 15 from the bench..
“France are full of confidence and have played really well this year,” said Townsend. “We know we’re playing one of the best teams in the world right now, so to rise to this challenge we’re going to have to play close to our best throughout the contest on Sunday.”
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“It’s great to have Fraser, Jamie and Matt recover from their recent injuries, and we are delighted to also involve Jamie, Duncan and Sean in a match-day squad for the first time this season,” he added.
“The Autumn Nations Cup is all about opportunity – the opportunity to play in a new competition and the opportunity for us as coaches to see how a large number of our squad perform when given the chance to play.”
Scotland (v France at Murrayfield, Sunday @ 3.15pm GMT): S Hogg©; B Kinghorn, C Harris, S Johnson, D van der Merwe; D Weir, A Price; O Kebble, F Brown (VC), S Berghan, S Cummings, J Gray, J Ritchie (VC), H Watson, M Fagerson. Substitutes: G Turner, J Bhatti, Z Fagerson, S Skinner B Thomson, S Hidalgo-Clyne, D Taylor, S Maitland.
France: T Ramos; T Thomas, V Vakatawa, G Fickou, V Rattez; M Jalibert, A Dupont; J Gros, C Chat, D Bamba, B Le Roux, R Taofifenua, D Cretin, C Ollivon©, G Alldritt. Substitues: J Marchand, C Baille, M Haouas, P Willemse, C Woki, B Couilloud, L Carbonel, A Vincent.
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)