Scotland team to play France: Tricky decisions at full-back and in the back row
It was the most impressive 40 minutes of the championship so far for the Scots who have a maximum ten points from their opening two Six Nations games. France away is a significant step up but there is a buoyancy about this Scotland team, many of whom have experience of winning in Paris in 2021. Townsend’s big decisions are likely to come at full-back and in the back row. Blair Kinghorn impressed in the former role when he replaced Stuart Hogg after 13 minutes of the win over the Welsh at Murrayfield, powering through for Scotland’s fourth try in the 35-7 win. Hogg went off with a head injury but trained this week. He has also been troubled by a heel problem in recent months but remains a hugely important figure for Scotland and is their most experienced player and top try-scorer.
Hamish Watson has not been involved in either of the opening two games but played an hour for Edinburgh last weekend against the Scarlets and feels physically ready to return. Luke Crosbie has filled the Scotland No 7 jersey with distinction in his absence but departed early in the second half against Wales with a neck/shoulder issue and Townsend may be tempted to unleash Watson on the French.
There are unlikely to be too many changes elsewhere as Scotland look to emulate the performance of two years ago when Duhan van der Merwe’s last-gasp try saw them win 27-23 at the Stade de France. That was their first win in Paris for 22 years and you have to go back to 1967-69 for the last time Scotland won two games in a row in the French capital. One player who won’t be involved on Sunday is John Cooney, the former Ireland scrum-half. Cooney became Scottish qualified on Thursday under the new World Rugby laws that allow a player to switch allegiance after a three-year cooling off period. The 32-year-old, who was capped 11 times by Ireland but whose dad is Scottish, is in the Ulster squad to play the Sharks in South Africa on Saturday.
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