Matt Scott – one of the few Scotland players to emerge in credit after his strong defensive display during the latterly insipid loss to England last weekend – has been withdrawn from the Scotland team through injury. He has made way for in form Saracens back Duncan Taylor who will be given the role of shackling Jamie Roberts. Welcome to the party, pal.
Elsewhere the team is unchanged, apart from Sean Lamont who takes Taylor’s place on the bench. A number of players who might have been under threat (Ford, Maitland, even Laidlaw) given the chance to redeem themselves in the fiery cauldron of the Principalityium Stadium, quite possibly with the roof on and thousands upon thousands of Welsh hen parties screaming their daffodil-adorned heads off.
Distractions aside, it is no mean target with Wales not losing to Scotland since Warren Gatland took over. There is a very high chance that the team could raise their concentration levels massively and still come away with disappointment against a settled Wales side.
Kick off is 4.50pm on Saturday, coverage on the BBC.
It is also worth mentioning if you have Sky that the U20s match is on S4C on Friday night. With plenty PRO12 experience in their ranks, the Welsh are already going for a grand slam, S4C’s press release told me, even though they still have the “strong teams” to face eg England and France. Ahem. Our younguns aren’t done yet… best of luck to all the teams heading south this weekend.
Scotland team to face Wales: Stuart Hogg; Sean Maitland, Mark Bennett, Duncan Taylor, Tommy Seymour; Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw (captain); Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford, WP Nel, Richie Gray, Jonny Gray, John Barclay, John Hardie, David Denton.
Replacements: Stuart McInally, Gordon Reid, Zander Fagerson, Tim Swinson, Blair Cowan, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Duncan Weir, Sean Lamont.
Unavailable through injury: Adam Ashe (shoulder), Fraser Brown (ankle), Alex Dunbar (posterior thigh), Grant Gilchrist (groin), Henry Pyrgos (wrist), Peter Horne (foot), Matt Scott (quad), Richie Vernon (shoulder), Tim Visser (hamstring).
To welcome Scotland, Gatland announced an unchanged XV with Dan Biggar passed fit.
Wales team: Liam Williams; George North, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, Tom James; Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Rob Evans, Scott Baldwin, Samson Lee, Luke Charteris, Alun Wyn Jones, Sam Warburton (Capt), Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau.
Replacements: Ken Owens, Gethin Jenkins, Tomas Francis, Bradley Davies, Dan Lydiate, Lloyd Williams, Rhys Priestland, Gareth Anscombe.