Graham to make first Scotland start against Wales

Graham to make first Scotland start against Wales

Scotland Head Coach Gregor Townsend has selected 11 Edinburgh players in his squad to face Wales in the Guinness Six Nations this Saturday at BT Murrayfield (9 March, kick-off 2.15pm) – live on BBC.

The team selection sees Darcy Graham make his first international start on the wing, while Stuart McInally and Grant Gilchrist are named as captain and vice-captain respectively.

After returning from injuries against Benetton last weekend, WP Nel is reinstated at tighthead prop, with Hamish Watson selected on the bench for the first time this 2019 Guinness Six Nations.

Fullback Blair Kinghorn, prop Allan Dell, and back-row pairing Jamie Ritchie and Magnus Bradbury all keep their place in the starting XV after featuring against France two weeks ago.

Elsewhere, forwards Ben Toolis and Simon Berghan are selected on the bench, with both players picking up game time in the round 3 encounter in Paris.

Ahead of the fixture, Townsend, said: “While there have been some strong moments in our games this campaign, we have yet to deliver that quality and focus for 80 minutes and play to our potential.

“We have had a couple of weeks since our defeat in Paris to look at ways we can improve our performances, through what we do in training, our tactical approach and through selection.

“First and foremost, we select a team we believe gives us the best chance of winning at the weekend, while we also have an opportunity to reward players who have been in very good form and have been knocking at the door of the team in recent weeks – Darcy Graham and Ali Price especially.

“Greig [Laidlaw], having started in our last six games is a key member of our squad, although this week we have decided to utilise his leadership and experience off the bench. He is driven by a desire to win for his country and he should have an important role to play in the latter stages of the match at the weekend.”

Among Scotland’s four starting changes are a new set of half-backs who will look to orchestrate the host’s efforts to secure the Doddie Weir Cup, as Racing 92 stand-off Finn Russell returns from a head injury to start alongside Glasgow Warriors scrum-half Ali Price.

Russell’s return sees Pete Horne move one place outfield to inside-centre – in place of Sam Johnson – to partner fellow Glasgow Warriors centre Nick Grigg, while the inclusion of Price means Greig Laidlaw moves to the bench, with hooker and club captain McInally taking on the national team responsibility for the third time.

The final change to the backs sees 21-year-old winger Darcy Graham earn his first start in place of injured Saracen Sean Maitland (foot) to join Seymour and clubmate Kinghorn in the back-three.

The only change to the pack is at tighthead where Nel returns from a calf injury to form an all-Edinburgh front-row with McInally and loosehead Dell.

They pack down in front of an unchanged back-five where lock Gilchrist partners Gray in the second-row and Bradbury, Ritchie and Josh Strauss return to the back-row.

There are three further changes to the bench which could see recent squad additions Watson (back-row), Gordon Reid (loosehead prop) and Byron McGuigan (back three) feature for the first time this campaign.

To see the Scotland team to play Wales at BT Murrayfield Stadium on Saturday 9 March (kick-off 2.15pm), live on BBCCLICK HERE.

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