Scotland name team for historic clash in Georgia
Centre Sam Johnson returns and will partner Rory Hutchinson on his first start as Scotland become the first major rugby nation to face Georgia in Tbilisi on Saturday.
Johnson, who has recovered from an ankle injury, features for the first time since his try-scoring appearance at Twickenham in the Six Nations. He is one of ten changes to the side that defeated France 17-14 at BT Murrayfield last weekend. He will make his comeback alongside 23-year-old Northampton centre Hutchinson, who will start his first Test match for his country. Lock Jonny Gray is not involved as he continues to return from a hamstring problem.
Scotland will be the first Tier One national side to travel for a Test match on Georgian soil, which doubles as the last opportunity for players to stake their claim for the final 31-man group for Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan, announced by Head Coach Gregor Townsend at a public event at Linlithgow Palace on Tuesday 3 September.
Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend, said: “We’re pleased to welcome Sam [Johnson] back into the side, having performed so well for us in the spring, while a number of other players also get the opportunity to build on Saturday’s performance.
“There were improvements in our back-to-back games against France, in particular in defence, game management and at scrum, as well some elements of our attack.
“All of these will be put to the test against a very good Georgian side who we expect to be extremely motivated by their passionate home support."Head Coach Gregor Townsend
“We’re expecting a very physical and confrontational encounter, which will be a great test for our squad. In order to rise to this challenge, we must take the game to our hosts right from the start, playing with relentless effort and accuracy.”
Hooker Stuart McInally returns to start the match and will captain the side once again, having done so in the opening Test against France in Nice, while the team also features first campaign starts for full-back Blair Kinghorn, prop Allan Dell and number 8 Matt Fagerson.
Wing Darcy Graham replaces the injured Tommy Seymour (head), with Sean Maitland remaining on the other flank of the back-three. Returning half-backs Greig Laidlaw and Finn Russell complete the back division.
In the pack, prop WP Nel starts again on the tighthead side alongside Dell and McInally in the front-row, while second and back-row forwards Grant Gilchrist and John Barclay have been promoted from the bench to start.
Lock Ben Toolis comes into the squad to start alongside Gilchrist, while last weekend’s man-of the-match, Hamish Watson, returns to link up with Barclay and Fagerson in the loose forwards.
Scotland team to play Georgia in the Dinamo Arena, Tbilisi
(kick-off 5pm BST, 8pm local time) – live on Premier Sports
15. Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh) - 13 caps
14. Darcy Graham (Edinburgh) - 5 caps
13. Rory Hutchinson (Northampton Saints) - 2 caps
12. Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors) - 4 caps
11. Sean Maitland (Saracens) - 41 caps
10. Finn Russell (Racing 92) - 44 caps
9. Greig Laidlaw VICE CAPTAIN (Clermont Auvergne) 72 caps
1. Allan Dell (London Irish) - 23 caps
2. Stuart McInally CAPTAIN (Edinburgh) - 28 caps
3. Willem Nel (Edinburgh) - 30 caps
4. Ben Toolis (Edinburgh) - 19 caps
5. Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh) - 35 caps
6. John Barclay VICE CAPTAIN (Edinburgh) - 73 caps
7. Hamish Watson (Edinburgh) - 26 caps
8. Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) - 4 caps
16. Grant Stewart (Glasgow Warriors) - 1 cap
17. Jamie Bhatti (Edinburgh) - 14 caps
18. Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) - 20 caps
19. Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors) - 2 caps
20. Josh Strauss (Blue Bulls) - 23 caps
21. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) - 25 caps
22. Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors) - 12 caps
23. Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors) - 22 caps