Nel and Watson start in France rematch
Edinburgh duo W.P Nel and Hamish Watson are both named in the starting line-up as Scotland Head Coach Gregor Townsend makes wholesale changes for this Saturday’s Summer Test rematch against France at BT Murrayfield Stadium (kick-off 1.10pm) – live on Premier Sports.
The forward pairing are two of six Edinburgh players selected in the matchday 23, with Simon Berghan, Grant Gilchrist, John Barclay and Blair Kinghorn all named among the replacements.
Full-back Stuart Hogg is the only player to return to the starting Scotland side – that features the selection of several experienced campaigners – following Saturday’s defeat to France in Nice.
Scotland’s biggest stadium is poised for its 15th consecutive capacity crowd – with limited tickets remaining – before which the national team aims to bounce back from their 32-3 defeat at the hands of Les Bleus in Nice last weekend.
Townsend, said: “Our first outing of the season was a disappointment and not reflective of the hard work our players have put in over the past two months.
"France are a very dangerous side if you give them space and quick ball to play, which is what we allowed to happen on too many occasions last week. Our focus all week has been to remedy this and also create much more from our attacking game.
“It was a stark reminder of how tough things can be at international level if our standards slip.
"We expect our players to show a much truer picture of themselves this Saturday. France have selected another strong side so it will be a great challenge for us to deliver a much-improved performance.”
Scotland’s starting back division is bookended by familiar partnerships and British & Irish Lions, as Hogg is joined by Saracens and Glasgow Warriors wings Sean Maitland and Tommy Seymour for their 19th Test start as a trio.
Continuing the thread of familiarity are Racing 92 stand-off Finn Russell and Clermont Auvergne scrum-half Greig Laidlaw, who captains the side.
The pair will equal the starting partnership appearances of fellow Scottish Lions Gary Armstrong and Craig Chalmers (32) and will then be three starts short of equalling the record-holding half-back partnership of Greig’s uncle Roy Laidlaw and stand-off John Rutherford.
At the opposite end of the international experience spectrum is Scarlets number 8 Blade Thomson, who will make his long-awaited Test debut in a back-row featuring Watson and Glasgow Warriors’ Ryan Wilson for the first time this campaign.
Fellow Warrior Scott Cummings is promoted from the bench position from which he debuted last weekend, alongside Exeter Chiefs lock Sam Skinner, and behind a new front-row trio of Gordon Reid (Ayrshire Bulls), Nel and hooker George Turner (Glasgow Warriors), who starts his second Scotland Test.
The side is completed by a new starting midfield partnership of Glasgow Warriors’ Pete Horne and Gloucester’s Chris Harris, while Glasgow Warriors hooker Grant Stewart could make his debut if called upon from the bench.
Scotland team to play France at BT Murrayfield Stadium
Saturday 24 August, kick-off 1.10pm – live on Premier Sports
15. Stuart Hogg VICE CAPTAIN (Exeter Chiefs) – 68 caps
14. Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors) – 50 caps
13. Chris Harris (Gloucester) – 8 caps
12. Pete Horne (Glasgow Warriors) – 41 caps
11. Sean Maitland (Saracens) – 40 caps
10. Finn Russell (Racing 92) – 44 caps
9. Greig Laidlaw CAPTAIN (Clermont Auvergne) – 71 caps
1. Gordon Reid (Ayrshire Bulls) – 35 caps
2. George Turner (Glasgow Warriors) – 6 caps
3. Willem Nel (Edinburgh) – 29 caps
4. Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors) – 1 cap
5. Sam Skinner (Exeter Chiefs) – 5 caps
6. Ryan Wilson VICE CAPTAIN (Glasgow Warriors) – 43 caps
7. Hamish Watson (Edinburgh) – 25 caps
8. Blade Thomson (Scarlets) – uncapped
16. Grant Stewart (Glasgow Warriors) – uncapped
17. Allan Dell (London Irish) – 22 caps
18. Simon Berghan (Edinburgh)– 20 caps
19. Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh) – 34 caps
20. John Barclay (Edinburgh) – 72 caps
21. George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) – 5 caps
22. Rory Hutchinson (Northampton Saints) – 1 cap
23. Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh) – 12 caps