What the five team changes mean for Scotland’s Autumn Nations Cup match v France
Oli Kebble for Rory Sutherland
The change at loosehead was forced upon Townsend after Sutherland suffered an ankle injury in the first half of last week’s win over Italy. Kebble stepped in for the Hawick man and acquitted himself well in Florence. It was his third autumn appearance off the bench for Scotland since qualifying through the residency rule but Sunday will mark his first start. The South African prop brings an abrasive presence and will look to maintain Scotland’s impressive scrummaging form against a new-look France front three.
Fraser Brown for Stuart McInally
Brown missed the Italy match after suffering a head knock in training but is back at hooker and will resume vice-captaincy duties against France. Brings a quiet authority to proceedings and has enjoyed a fruitful autumn, scoring two tries in the win over Georgia in which he captained his country for the first time, then starting in the Six Nations triumph over Wales in Llanelli. McInally drops out altogether, with George Turner named as substitute hooker.
Simon Berghan for Zander Fagerson
Perhaps the biggest surprise in Townsend’s all-new front row. Fagerson has been in fine form and scored an important try in the comeback win over Italy last weekend. It’s a first start for Berghan since the heavy defeat to France in last year’s World Cup warm-up match in Nice. The tighthead’s last seven caps have been won as a replacement and include autumn appearances against Georgia and Wales. Fagerson drops on to the bench
Matt Fagerson for Blade Thomson
No 8 is seen as something of a problem position for Scotland with no-one yet showing make the role their own. Blade Thomson has had the jersey for the last two matches and Townsend talked up the Scarlets man’s defensive capabilities but you suspect the position is still up for grabs. Cornell du Preez and Nick Haining have also played there but Matt Fagerson, at 22, has youth on his side and Zander’s younger brother now has the opportunity to take up where he left off in the Georgia game where he picked up an injury. “It’s up to Matt to show what he can do,” said the coach. Thomson is named among the substitutes.
Blair Kinghorn for Darcy Graham
Kinghorn comes back into the starting XV at the expense of Edinburgh club-mate Darcy Graham, who drops out of the matchday squad. Kinghorn and Duhan van der Merwe offer a muscular threat on the wings and the former could also provide cover at stand-off in the event of an injury to Duncan Weir. Kinghorn impressed in the Six Nations win over France in March, as did Sean Maitland who is on the bench for Sunday as wing cover.
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