SCOTLAND have had to make three enforced changes to the team which defeated England at Twickenham last Saturday ahead of this weekend’s Six Nations round two clash against Wales at Murrayfield.
Flanker Jamie Ritchie, centre Cameron Redpath and winger Sean Maitland are unavailable through injury, so Blade Thomson, James Lang and Darcy Graham come straight into the starting XV having not been part of last weekend’s match-day squad.
“We have an opportunity this weekend against Wales to continue the positive start to the Guinness Six Nations we made last week against England,” said head coach Gregor Townsend.
“It was a very encouraging performance at Twickenham and the squad performed to a level which has to be the benchmark throughout the tournament. Wales are also coming into this game after a win and will have the same objective, so it will be a tough challenge as always.
“Both teams were involved in physical contests last weekend, and that is evidenced by the injuries Wales and we ourselves have picked up. For us, we are able to bring in three quality players in Blade, James and Darcy. They have been training well and are highly motivated to make the most of this opportunity.”
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Meanwhile, Liam Williams returns from suspension to play on the left wing for Wales.
George North, who was set to win his 100th cap this weekend, and Johnny Williams, are both out, so Owen Watkin starts at outside-centre and Nick Tompkins is at inside-centre in a new-look midfield. Willis Halaholo is set to make his debut off the bench..
Gareth Davies carries on at scrum-half after replacing Tomos Williams (hamstring) during last weekend’s win over Ireland.
In the pack, Aaron Wainwright comes in for the injured Dan Lydiate (ACL) at blindside flanker. Both Josh Navidi (Achilles) and Josh Macleod are unavailable, with the latter originally selected to earn his first cap at blindside flanker before being ruled out, so James Botham – grandson of Ian – is on the bench.
“It is a quick six-day turnaround this week but we are looking forward to getting back out there,” said Wales head coach Wayne Pivac. “We have picked up a couple of injuries but we see it as more of an opportunity for those coming into the side.
Scotland (v Wales on Saturday, at Murrayfield Stadium, kick-off 4.45pm GMT): S Hogg©; D Graham, C Harris, J Lang, D van der Merwe; F Russell, A Price; R Sutherland, G Turner, Z Fagerson, S Cummings, J Gray, B Thomson, H Watson, M Fagerson. Substitutes: D Cherry, O Kebble, W Nel, R Gray, G Graham, S Steele, J van der Walt, H Jones.
Wales: L Halfpenny; L Rees-Zammit, O Watkin, N Tompkins, L Williams; D Biggar, G Davies; W Jones, K Owens, T Francis, A Beard, AW Jones, A Wainwright, J Tipuric, T Faletau. Subs: E Dee, R Jones, L Brown, W Rowlands, J Botham, K Hardy, C Sheedy, U Halohalo.