Scotland team to play New Zealand: Finn Russell starts, three changes, big call in front row

Finn Russell has gone straight back into the Scotland team for Sunday’s autumn international against New Zealand.

Finn Russell has been restored to the Scotland starting XV.
Finn Russell has been restored to the Scotland starting XV.

The Racing 92 player will start at stand-off against the All Blacks, with Blair Kinghorn on the bench. Russell, 30, was left out of Gregor Townsend’s original squad for the series but was called up on Monday after Adam Hastings was injured in last weekend’s win over Fiji. Kinghorn started the first autumn Test against Australia but finds himself among the replacements following the return of the 63-times capped fly-half. Russell’s initial exclusion was a contentious move by Townsend who challenged the player to work on his form and consistency. Russell responded by helping Racing win the three games on the spin, scoring 57 points.

The national coach has made three changes to his starting XV as Scotland bid to beat New Zealand for the first time. Russell will have Sione Tuipulotu immediately outside him, with the Glasgow Warriors player restored to inside centre in place of Cameron Redpath. Up front, Fraser Brown comes in at hooker in place of George Turner who injured his shoulder against Fiji. Ewan Ashman provides cover on the bench. WP Nel and Mark Bennett are also among the replacements after missing the Fiji game.

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Scotland team (v New Zealand, BT Murrayfield, Sunday, kick-off 2.15pm): Hogg; Graham, Harris, Tuipulotu, Van der Merwe; Russell, Price; Schoeman, Brown, Z Fagerson, R Gray, Gilchrist, Ritchie (capt), Watson, M Fagerson: Replacements: Ashman, Sutherland, Nel, J Gray, Dempsey, White, Kinghorn, Bennett.