SCOTLAND scrum-half Greig Laidlaw has been restored to the side as captain for Saturday’s World Cup warm-up against Italy at BT Murrayfield.
The Gloucester half-back is one of 15 changes to the 25-man squad to face the Italians who Scotland defeated 16-12 in Turin last weekend.
This Saturday’s Test in Edinburgh is Scotland’s last match before head coach Vern Cotter names his squad for the Rugby World Cup.
Squad rotation means that almost an entirely new team could take to the field.
Laidlaw is among six new faces available to the back division, with Glasgow Warriors’ quartet Mark Bennett, Stuart Hogg, Finn Russell, and Tommy Seymour, and returning Harlequins’ wing Tim Visser, all vying for a starting berth.
The nine changes to the pack feature two players yet to feature this summer – lock Jonny Gray and back-row Ryan Wilson – while the remainder return from the squad selected to face Ireland in the opening Test, namely John Barclay, Fraser Brown, Blair Cowan, David Denton, Rob Harley and Jon Welsh.
Lock Grant Gilchrist has recovered from the sickness that ruled him out of the Italy Test on the morning of the match and is available for selection this weekend, while a remaining nine – Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford, Peter Horne, Sean Lamont, Stuart McInally, Willem Nel, Henry Pyrgos, Gordon Reid and Matt Scott – return to complete the squad.
The SRU is expecting its largest crowd for a home summer Test match, overtaking the 2003 record set against Ireland of 35,264.
Scotland squad (to play Italy at BT Murrayfield this Saturday, 3.15pm, live on BT Sport):
FORWARDS: John Barclay (Scarlets), Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors), Blair Cowan (London Irish), David Denton, Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford, Grant Gilchrist (all Edinburgh Rugby), Jonny Gray, Robert Harley (both Glasgow Warriors), Stuart McInally, Willem Nel (both Edinburgh Rugby), Ryan Wilson, Gordon Reid (both Glasgow Warriors), Jon Welsh (Newcastle Falcons).
BACKS: Mark Bennett, Stuart Hogg, Peter Horne (all Glasgow Warriors), Greig Laidlaw, capt, (Gloucester), Sean Lamont, Finn Russell, Henry Pyrgos, Tommy Seymour (all Glasgow Warriors), Greig Tonks (Edinburgh Rugby), Matt Scott (Edinburgh Rugby), Tim Visser (Harlequins).