Gregor Townsend has made five changes to the team to face Italy. The Toony Tombola strikes!
There aren’t many faces who haven’t yet featured but the squad has rotated a fair bit. The exceptions are Zander Fagerson and Richie Gray who but for injury would have been part of the plans pre-tournament but who have been kept back by injury.
With WP Nel starting up front, there’s no place for Simon Berghan which seems slightly unfair given the way he played against both England and France, but it has laid down a marker for the other two in terms of work in the loose.
Grant Gilchrist becomes the latest lock to rotate out back to Edinburgh, again harsh in light of his form but also understandable given some key mistakes in the Ireland game. The faltering lineout also means Fraser Brown is given a chance to live up to Stuart McInally’s high standards. That must be the reason – either that or my player of the tournament so far is knackered.
These guys coming back in may have the edge in reputation, technical or set piece work but a standard was set in the England game for workrate in the loose and everyone it seems now has to live up to it, even the guys who set it.
In the back line things are more settled with Tommy Seymour fit again coming straight back in. Kinghorn did little wrong against Ireland but actually, he could be very handy off the bench against tiring legs. The main change is Nick Grigg and Pete Horne swapping, giving Grigg a real chance to show what he can offer in the 12 shirt, which is not as full of potential candidates as 13 when everyone is fit.
Whether Italy see this selection as a slight like they did* with Wales remains to be seen but it is still a pretty strong team.
Scotland: Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Huw Jones, Nick Grigg, Sean Maitland, Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw; Gordon Reid, Fraser Brown, WP Nel, Tim Swinson, Jonny Gray, John Barclay (capt), Hamish Watson, Ryan Wilson.
Replacements: Stuart McInally, Jamie Bhatti, Zander Fagerson, Richie Gray, David Denton, Ali Price, Pete Horne, Blair Kinghorn.
* or were rumoured to, thanks FF.