SCOTLAND Under-20s head coach Kenny Murray has made seven changes to his starting XV ahead of tomorrow evening’s clash against Italy. The age-grade side are looking to bounce back from a 45-15 defeat to Wales in round one of their Six Nations Summer Series campaign on Saturday, but face a tough challenge against the host nation who were 27-13 victors when the two sides met back in March, and who picked up a 36-19 win over Georgia in their opening match of this tournament.
Gabe Jones of Brunel University/Ealing Trailfinders earns his first start for the national age-grade side at full-back after impressing from the bench last time out, and is joined in the back-three by for fit again Ross McKnight, who missed the Wales match but was a leading player during the 2022 Six Nations.
It is all change at half-back with Ben Afshar replacing his Southern Knights team-mate Murray Redpath at scrum-half, while and Euan Cunningham comes in for Christian Townsend at stand-off.
In the pack, the second and back rows are unchanged from the side which started against Wales, but the front-row is completely different, with Patrick Harrison bringing some pro experience at hooker, with Iain Carmichael of Glasgow Hawks/Boroughmuir Bears and Gregor Scougall Currie Chieftains/Watsonians his props.
There are 26 players in the matchday squad because of the condensed nature of the tournament. All 11 substitutes are available to be used during the match.
“Whilst the result and performance against Wales was deeply disappointing, there were some positives to take from the second half and from the performances of some of the youngest members of our squad,” said Murray.
“Selection for this game against Italy has reflected that, with Afshar and Cunningham we thought they finished the game strongly last time out so we give them a chance to show what they can do from the off in this game.
“Whilst we’ve made a change to the front row, we’ve stuck with the same starting back five in the scrum to provide some much needed experience against what we know will be a physical Italian outfit.”
Scotland Under-20s (v Italy Under-20s in the Six Nations U20 Summer Series, Stadio di Monigo, Treviso, Thursday @ 7pm British time): G Jones (Brunel University/Ealing Trailfinders); R McKnight (Stirling County/Glasgow Warriors), D Munn (Boroughmuir Bears), A Stirrat (GHA/Ayrshire Bulls), K Johnston (Gala); E Cunningham (Stirling County/Glasgow Warriors), B Afshar (Edinburgh Accies/Southern Knights/Newcastle University); I Carmichael (Glasgow Hawks/Boroughmuir Bears), P Harrison (Watsonians/Edinburgh Rugby), G Scougall (Currie Chieftains/Watsonians), J Taylor (Ealing Trailfinders), M Williamson (Stirling County/Glasgow Warriors), L McConnell (Boroughmuir Bears), R Tait (Boroughmuir Bears/Glasgow Warriors, captain), O Leatherbarrow (Exeter Chiefs). Substitutes: D Hood (Bath University), J Lascelles (Gloucester Rugby/Hartpury College), A Rogers (Glasgow Hawks/Ayrshire Bulls), J Spurway (Stirling County/Durham University), R Brown (Southern Knights/Edinburgh Rugby), F Burgess (Glasgow Hawks/Southern Knights), C Townsend (Ayrshire Bulls/Glasgow Warriors), K Clark (Melrose/Southern Knights), M Deehan (Newcastle Falcons), G Hiddleston (GHA/Stirling County), B Salmon (Stirling County).