RICHIE Gray, Scott Lawson and Johnnie Beattie have all been promoted to the starting line-up for Saturday’s crucial RBS Six Nations match with Italy on Saturday as Scotland seek their first win in 2014.
Scott Johnson, the Scotland head coach, has tackled the misfiring lineout by dropping hooker Ross Ford and Tim Swinson, the Glasgow second row, but there will be puzzlement at the fact the main lineout ‘caller’ Jim Hamilton remains in the side and calling the lineouts this weekend. This will be Gray’s first start since the autumn Test against South Africa, with his last appearance being off the bench against Ireland in the last quarter of the opening match.
Beattie’s name has featured often among supporters eager for a change in the back row, but it is again strange that his return comes at the expense of David Denton, one of the few good players in the Scotland team against England recently.
Ryan Wilson remains at blindside flanker and Chris Fusaro at openside so despite returning to Scotland training this week former skipper Kelly Brown remains out in the cold, and back on club duty with Saracens this weekend.
Full interviews with Johnson and players returning will feature in tomorrow’s Scotsman, but Johnson confirmed to scottishrugby.org: “We’ve made the changes to the pack with a view to improving the supply and quality of possession.
“Italy are formidable opponents, especially in Rome, and Scotland’s matches against them in recent years have been a real arm wrestle. We’re all hurting at the results of the first two games but the players we’ve chosen have the chance to do something that can make our supporters proud this weekend.”
Gray stated: “I’m delighted to be back. I think I speak for all the players in the fact we’re looking forward to going out and putting in a performance.
“I was not involved against England but I think the guys were pretty down and they did not manage to show what they can do. So I think this weekend it’s really about showing what we can do.”
Scotland team to play Italy in Stadio Olimpico, Rome, on Saturday 22 February in the RBS 6 Nations Championship, kick-off 2.30pm local time (1.30pm UK time)
15 Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors)
14 Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors)
13 Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors)
12 Matt Scott (Edinburgh Rugby)
11 Sean Lamont (Glasgow Warriors)
10 Duncan Weir (Glasgow Warriors)
9 Greig Laidlaw (Edinburgh Rugby) captain
1 Ryan Grant (Glasgow Warriors)
2 Scott Lawson (Newcastle Falcons)
3 Moray Low (Glasgow Warriors)
4 Richie Gray (Castres)
5 Jim Hamilton (Montpellier)
6 Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors)
7 Chris Fusaro (Glasgow Warriors)
8 Johnnie Beattie (Montpellier)
16 Ross Ford (Edinburgh Rugby), 17 Alasdair Dickinson (Edinburgh Rugby), 18 Geoff Cross (Edinburgh Rugby), 19 Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors), 20 David Denton (Edinburgh Rugby), 21 Chris Cusiter (Glasgow Warriors), 22 Duncan Taylor (Saracens), 23 Max Evans (Castres).
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