Ryan Wilson to captain as Scotland name team to face Georgia a day early

Scotland have named their team to face Georgia in Friday's final World Cup warm-up match at BT Murrayfield.

Wednesday, 4th September 2019, 3:54 pm
Ryan Wilson will captain Scotland for the first time against Georgia at BT Murrayfield on Friday night. PICTURE: Bill Murray/SRU/SNS

The matchday 23 features 21 players who, barring injury, will be on the plane to Japan on Monday, with Glasgow forward Wilson skippering his country for the first time on what will be his 45th cap.

The team announcement was planned for tomorrow but head coach Gregor Townsend named it this afternoon and, as he intimated at yesterday’s press conference at Linlithgow Palace after revealing his final 31-man squad, and welcomes back lock Jonny Gray for the first time in the four-match series after his recovery from a tweaked hamstring.

There had been speculation that Townsend would involve more players who had missed out on selection to protect the Japan-bound core but the starting side are all in the World Cup squad.

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It was expected that Glasgow hooker Grant Stewart would be involved and he is on the bench, alongside the more surprise inclusion of Edinburgh back-rower Magnus Bradbury, who missed out on the 31 after struggling with a rib injury.

Townsend said: “We’ve been together since the middle of June and Friday night is our final chance this year to play in front of our supporters.

"It’s another opportunity for players to get valuable game time and build on what was a very good performance last weekend in Georgia. We are very aware that Georgia will be much improved after their first hit out of the season and they will know much more about how we play.”

Glasgow wing Tommy Seymour and Scarlets No 8 Blade Thomson have completed the “graduated return to play protocol” for concussions sustained against France almost a fortnight ago.

In a side that features 12 changes from the one which beat Georgia 44-10 in Tbilisi, star men Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell are protected, while there is an entirely new starting pack, with Glasgow Warriors pair George Turner and Zander Fagerson combining with Ayrshire Bulls loosehead Gordon Reid in the front-row.

Glasgow lock Scott Cummings has been promoted from the bench to feature alongside the returning Gray, while back-row Jamie Ritchie completes the loose forwards alongside skipper Wilson and Thomson.

Saracens centre Duncan Taylor makes his second appearance of the series and forms yet another new centre partnership with Sam Johnson.

Townsend added: “It’s a boost to have Jonny back in the side for the first time since last season and for others, like Tommy, Blade and Duncan, to have made a return to full fitness, following their recent injuries.

“It’s also great to involve two players in our squad this weekend - Grant Stewart and Magnus Bradbury - who just missed out on selection to our group to travel to Japan.

“As with all those that didn’t make the 31-man squad, it’s important they keep training and playing well in case they get a call up during the tournament.”