Edinburgh youngster Darcy Graham is in line for his first Scotland start and a BT Murrayfield bow in dark blue after the news that wing Sean Maitland has been ruled out of Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations clash with Wales.
Maitland injured his foot during a two-try performance in Saracens 36-17 win over Northampton in the English Premiership at the weekend and the 30-year-old, who has 11 tries to his name in 39 Scotland caps, is the latest in a long litany of injury setbacks that have tested Gregor Townsend’s squad to its limits. Newcastle centre Chris Harris is also unavailable for the visit of the Grand Slam-chasing Welsh after picking up a calf injury at the weekend.
The blow for Maitland opens the door of opportunity for 21-year-old Graham, who made his Scotland debut in the opening November Test against Wales in Cardiff and doubled his cap tally when he came off the bench in the 27-10 defeat by France in Paris.
Townsend added Sale wing Byron McGuigan, who was injured when the Six Nations squad was announced, on Monday but Graham would appear to be in pole position for a starting wing slot as Blair Kinghorn continues to cover the full-back berth while Stuart Hogg recovers from a shoulder injury.
On the other wing, Tommy Seymour is poised to win his 50th cap on Saturday and, speaking before the news of Maitland’s injury was announced, the Glasgow man said that the squad were determined to atone for the flat performance in Paris and take the game to in-form Wales after losing their cherished three-year unbeaten Six Nations home record to Ireland in the second week of the championship.
“For us taking two losses in a row in any shape or form is disappointing, especially considering where we felt we were,” said the 30-year-old. “We know how tough a tournament it is but we felt we were in a good place so it’s hugely disappointing to have lost those two fixtures.
“We’ve had some choice words with ourselves and refocused the minds going into this week which will be massive for us. It’s been a bitter pill to swallow but one we’ve had to swallow nonetheless.
“I’d like to think we won’t be as flat as we were in Paris again. We’re excited to get back to Murrayfield. We know we’ve got a lot of things to put right. We’re really excited about the challenge of Wales.”
Scotland beat Wales on their last visit to Murrayfield in 2017 but were well beaten by the men in red in two trips to Cardiff last year.
“They’ve got the better of us in the last few meetings so it’s going to be a huge test,” admitted Seymour. “They’re unbeaten in 12 games, so that’s a massive challenge for us and one we’re really excited about facing.
“They are going to be one of the toughest challenges we’ve faced. Their physicality, their kick-chase, they’ve got great playmakers, incredible attacking threats out wide, so we know they have got a range of skills in their armoury. They’ll obviously have a record they’re now protecting and their sights on bigger things in this tournament.
“We need to focus on us, the goals that we’ve set. Hopefully coming back to Murrayfield, we can use that as a catalyst for putting us back on the right track.”