Guinness Six Nations

Gray back in Scotland fold for England test

Jonny Gray
Return: Jonny Gray (pic: SNS Group)

Jonny Gray will return to the Scotland side for the first time in nearly a year when Gregor Townsend’s side open their Guinness Six Nations campaign against England at Murrayfield on Saturday.

The giant lock’s last start came against Ireland in March 2021 and he forms part of an experienced team for the tournament opener in Edinburgh.

Exeter’s Gray, who missed the Autumn Test series through injury, is joined by Edinburgh Rugby’s Grant Gilchrist in the second row and elsewhere in the forwards Worcester Warriors’ prop Rory Sutherland is named after playing in all of last year’s Six Nations matches. He is joined in the front row by Glasgow Warriors pair, hooker George Turner and prop Zander Fagerson.

Edinburgh Rugby duo Jamie Ritchie and Hamish Watson will combine with Matt Fagerson from Glasgow Warriors in the back row.

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Racing 92’s Finn Russell and Glasgow Warrior Ali Price will partner each other at 9 and 10 respectively for the fourth consecutive game, meanwhile Worcester’s Duhan van der Merwe starts on the wing. Darcy Graham will be on the opposite flank, with Stuart Hogg again skippering the team on his ninth Calcutta Cup appearance.

Head coach Gregor Townsend masterminded a victory over Saturday’s opponents in the championship opener at Twickenham last season and he said: “We are aware of how much winning at Twickenham boosted the spirits of our supporters at the start of last year’s tournament, and we’re looking forward to playing in front of them in person this year.

“We are under no illusions on the tough challenge we have ahead of us against an England side who defeated the world champions in their last outing.

“The starting 15 we have named has a consistent feel to it which is great for cohesion but we will also benefit from returning players such as Jonny Gray and Rory Sutherland who have been important players for us in recent seasons.”

England have named Tom Curry as their captain in place of the injured Owen Farrell.

Eddie Jones has included seven players with 10 caps or less in his starting XV as he looks to regain the Calcutta Cup at Murrayfield for the first time since 1984.

Scotland: Hogg; Graham, Harris, Johnson, Van der Merwe; Russell, Price; Sutherland, Turner, Z Fagerson, J Gray, Gilchrist, Ritchie, Watson, M Fagerson. Replacements: McInally, Schoeman, Nel, Skinner, Bradbury, White, Kinghorn, Tuipulotu.

England: Steward; Malins, Daly, Slade, Marchant; Smith, Youngs; Genge, Cowan-Dickie, Sinckler, Itoje, Isiekwe, Ludlam, Curry (capt), Simmonds. Replacements: George, Marler, Stuart, Ewels, Dombrandt, Randall, Ford, Nowell.

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