Guinness Six Nations Championship

Three changes as Scotland prepare for Italian exam

Changes: Gregor Townsend (pic: SNS Group)

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has made three changes to his starting line-up as he goes in search of his first win in this season’s Guinness Six Nations Championship against Italy.

Edinburgh hooker Stuart McInally is back in place of Glasgow Warriors’ Fraser Brown while Ben Toolis gets the nod to replace the sidelined Jonny Gray. Gloucester’s Chris Harris comes in at centre for the dropped Huw Jones.

Townsend has yet to see his team score a try in the campaign and said: “Italy are always a very tough opponent, especially in Rome, where we know they’ll look to play with a huge amount of energy.

“It’s a different Italy team to the one we’ve played in the past. In their opening two games of the championship they have played with real ambition and width.

“They’ve also selected athletic, ball players who suit this strategy and are comfortable playing at a high tempo.

“We are well aware of the threats throughout their team and how their attacking game can cause problems for any defence.”

On his changes, he said: “We believe Chris [Harris] and Stuart [McInally] deserve this opportunity. They were very close to the starting fifteen when we entered this campaign. We think this is the right time for them to come in.

“Chris has been excellent for Gloucester this season and has continued to make improvements since the summer. He works very hard on both sides of the ball, which will be important this week.

“Stuart [McInally] has shown over the past few weeks he’s back to full fitness and is raring to go and Ben gets an opportunity to start following Jonny’s injury against England.

“Second-row is a position we have a lot of competition with a number of very good players available for selection. We’re looking forward to seeing how he combines again with Scott [Cummings] after a successful outing together against Russia in the World Cup.”

The Scots have won on their last four visits to Rome and will be looking to extend that run as they try to bounce back from defeats to Ireland and England.

Scotland: Hogg (capt); Maitland, Harris, Johnson, Kinghorn; Hastings, Price; Sutherland, McInally, Fagerson, Cummings, Toolis, Ritchie, Watson, Bradbury.

Replacements: Brown, Dell, Nel, Gilchrist, Fagerson, Horne, Hutchinson, McGuigan.

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