Scotland announce team to face Italy in Six Nations opener

Gregor Townsend has named his side to face Italy in the Guinness Six Nations opener at BT Murrayfield on Friday.

Thursday, 31st January 2019, 1:13 pm
Updated Thursday, 31st January 2019, 1:40 pm

Newcastle flanker Gary Graham, previously called up by England coach Eddie Jones, and Leicester hooker Jake Kerr could also win their first caps if they appear off the bench.

Edinburgh full-back Blair Kinghorn, meanwhile, will start on the left wing as the Dark Blues welcome the Azzurri to Murrayfield.

Townsend said: “It’s a privilege to be involved in the Guinness Six Nations, a tournament that has grown in quality over the past few seasons. You can sense the excitement throughout the rugby world on the eve of this year’s Championship and we’re looking forward to our starting our campaign at BT Murrayfield.

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“Italy have made life tough for Scotland in every Test match we’ve played. I remember that as a player, as a supporter and as a coach – and they were better than us in most of last season’s contest in Rome. They played with pace, were physical and we had to play really, really well in the final quarter to win.

“That performance and also the recent displays of Benetton Treviso are sharp reminders for our players that this will be a difficult fixture.

“Our challenge is to win the physical battle, which is a strength of Italian rugby. We will also have to bring energy and accuracy in order to get our campaign off to a winning start.”

The team in full...

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend. Picture: INPHO/Billy Stickland

15. Stuart Hogg

14. Tommy Seymour

13. Huw Jones

12. Sam Johnson

11. Blair Kinghorn

10. Finn Russell

9. Greig Laidlaw (captain)

1. Allan Dell

2. Stuart McInally

3. WP Nel

4. Ben Toolis

5. Grant Gilchrist

6. Sam Skinner

7. Jamie Ritchie

8. Ryan Wilson

Subs

16. Jake Kerr

17. Jamie Bhatti

18. Simon Berghan

19. Gary Graham

20. Josh Strauss

21. Ali Price

22. Adam Hastings

23. Chris Harris