Nine Edinburgh players named to face England
Scotland Head Coach Gregor Townsend has named nine Edinburgh players - including an all capital tight-five - in his squad to face England in this Saturday’s final Guinness Six Nations Test at Twickenham Stadium (16 March) – live on ITV.
Seven of those eight starters are selected in the forward pack, while Darcy Graham makes his second consecutive start on the wing after finding the scoresheet against Wales last weekend.
Stuart McInally – who is named in an unchanged front-row alongside club teammates Allan Dell and WP Nel – skippers the side, while Ben Toolis partners vice-captain Grant Gilchrist an all-Edinburgh second-row.
Hamish Watson – who made a superb cameo appearance from the bench against Wales last weekend – makes his first start of the 2019 Guinness Six Nations at openside flanker, with Magnus Bradbury switching to No.8.
Elsewhere, tighthead prop Simon Berghan is selected among the replacements and if invoved will make his 19th appearance for the national side.
The Scots travel south in defence of the Calcutta Cup trophy they lifted for the first time in ten years at BT Murrayfield last year, with a victory in west London escaping the Scots in each of the biennial times of asking since 1983.
Townsend, said: “First of all we have to build on the positive aspects of our performance from last weekend against Wales, when we were able to generate quick ball and build a lot of pressure on the opposition.
“The character and fitness the players displayed showed, in the second-half, what the team is capable of against one of the best sides in the world. The next step is making that pressure count on the scoreboard, more regularly.
“Winning away from home tends to be achieved through an outstanding defensive performance and we are determined to deliver that this Saturday. At times against Wales we weren’t aggressive or accurate enough so that has been a focus for us this week in training.”
Scotland’s team changes are split evenly between the backs and forwards and see English Premiership pair Sean Maitland (Saracens) and Byron McGuigan (Sale Sharks) start in place of back-three counterparts Blair Kinghorn and Tommy Seymour – both injured in last weekend’s loss to Wales – alongside try-scorer Graham.
The alterations to the back division are completed by Glasgow Warriors inside-centre Sam Johnson, who starts his fourth Test of the tournament in place of clubmate Pete Horne.
Johnson partners fellow Warrior Nick Grigg in midfield, with half-backs Finn Russell and Ali Price starting once again.
The starting back-row features two of the three pack changes where Edinburgh openside Watson will earn his 25th cap in place of Jamie Ritchie, who has not recovered sufficiently from the head / neck injury sustained against Wales to feature this weekend.
Exeter Chiefs forward Sam Skinner – injured in the opening round win over Italy – returns to blindside flank in place of Sale Sharks’ Josh Strauss – who moves to the bench – with Bradbury moving to the national number 8 position for the first time.
The last change sees Toolis start in place of Jonny Gray – who moves to the bench – alongside clubmate Grant Gilchrist to form an all-Edinburgh tight five with returning front-row forwards Dell, captain McInally and Nel, meaning all but one of the starting pack hails from the capital club.
Newcastle Falcons back Chris Harris marks his return from the calf injury he sustained representing his club in the fallow week of the tournament with a place on the most experienced bench to be named by Townsend this campaign.
To see the Scotland team to play England at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday 16 March (kick-off 5pm) – live on ITV, CLICK HERE.