Scotland coach Gregor Townsend announced his matchday squad to face Italy for their inaugural Autumn Nations Cup match, and a strong line-up shows the strength in depth being created despite there being four changes to the XV named to play against Wales.
The big news – as had been forecasted – is the return of Duncan Weir in the 10 jersey due to the long-term injuries sustained by Finn Russell and Adam Hastings against Wales.
“Duncan always gives 100% whenever he plays, we see the effort he puts in in defence and support play, and the time he spends on the training field. He’s now in his late 20s and playing in a position where you do learn throughout your career like what pictures you’re going to see from different defences and also just the skills he’s built up over the years.
“He’s playing great rugby and it’s a bonus for us that with two players injured we can call on someone playing regularly at Premiership level and is really confident in what he’s doing.”
Weir will start alongside the returning Sam Johnson at inside centre, and Duhan van der Merwe replaces Blair Kinghorn on the left-wing with Kinghorn dropping to the bench.
The other change to the starting line-up sees former captain Stuart McInally replacing the captain v Wales, Fraser Brown.
“Fraser picked up a head injury yesterday in training, just a scrum collapsed and he had symptoms yesterday with a headache so that rules him out of the weekend but he seems to be in a better place today. We hope he’ll get through the protocols and be available next week or the following week, but we just have to wait on that one.”
Townsend also revealed that scrum-half George “Horneito” Horne suffered a toe injury in the same session and his place on the bench will be taken by a fourth member of Exeter’s European and English championship winning squad, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, for what could be his first appearance in Scotland colours since the 2018 tour of the Americas.
Scotland: Stuart Hogg, Darcy Graham, Chris Harris, Sam Johnson,
Duhan van der Merwe, Duncan Weir, Ali Price; Rory Sutherland,
Stuart McInally, Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings, Jonny Gray,
Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Blade Thomson
Replacements: George Turner, Oli Kebble, WP Nel, Sam Skinner,
Nick Haining, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, James Lang, Blair Kinghorn