In-form Paterson recalled for his 99th Scotland cap

Full-back to make first start under Andy Robinson after rediscovering attacking flair
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The Independent Online

It is not the first time a full-back from these shores has been given a "99 call". For JPR Williams, when the cry came from Willie John McBride in the midst of the brutal third Test on the British and Irish Lions' 1974 tour to South Africa, it meant a call to arms to get in some all-for-one retaliation – even if, in the case of the great Welsh No 15, it entailed haring half the length of the field in Port Elizabeth to lay into the notorious Natal hard-nut Johannes "Moaner" van Heerden. For Chris Paterson yesterday, it meant a return to starting duty in Scotland's Six Nations opener against France at Murrayfield on Sunday, and a step to the very brink of the Cap Centurion Club.

It is difficult to imagine the 12st 4lb Paterson racing 50m to mix it with one of the heavyweight French forwards but the Edinburgh full-back packs the deadliest of points-scoring punches in his size eight-and-a-half right boot. He has not missed a kick at goal in the Six Nations since Scotland's visit to the Stade de France on the final day of the 2007 championship, landing 15 out of 15 in 2008 and 16 out of 16 last year. Not that the 31-year-old has been given the call for his 99th cap solely on the strength of his accuracy with the boot.

"Chris hasn't been selected just for his goalkicking," Andy Robinson, Scotland's head coach, maintained. "He's been selected for the way he's been playing at full-back for Edinburgh. He has been getting his counter-attacking game back to where it was three or four years ago.

"The way we want to play this game – with the French kicking a lot of ball – we need a player like Chris having the confidence to run the ball back."

Even with Rory Lamont on the injured list, it was no formality that Paterson would get his first start under Robinson, who used him from the bench in Scotland's three autumn Tests. Hugo Southwell was another option for the No 15 shirt but, having been a stand-in scrum-half for Stade Français in recent weeks, he starts on the bench on Sunday.

Phil Godman gets a vote of confidence at No 10, with no place even as a potential replacement for the more conservative stand-off Dan Parks, while the spring-heeled Evans brothers, Max and Thom, are named on the wing and at outside centre.

Up front, Glasgow's Kelly Brown comes in for the injured Alasdair Strokosch on the blindside flank, while Gloucester's Alasdair Dickinson and Moray Low of Glasgow have been entrusted with propping duties – the later at tighthead, Euan Murray having removed himself from the selection equation for Sunday matches on religious grounds (and likely to be named in the A team to play Ireland A in Belfast on Friday).

Ireland kick off their Six Nations campaign against Italy in Rome on Saturday with Ronan O'Gara in for the injured Jonathan Sexton at outside-half, Leinster's Kevin McLaughlin making his debut at blindside flanker, and with John Hayes (98) and Brian O'Driscoll (97) following hard on Paterson's heels towards the milestone 100 cap mark.

Scotland and Ireland: Weekend teams

Scotland (v France, Sunday): C Paterson; T Evans, M Evans, G Morrison, S Lamont; P Godman, C Cusiter (c); A Dickinson, R Ford, M Low, N Hines, A Kellock, K Brown, J Beattie, J Barclay. Subs: S Lawson, A Jacobsen, R Gray, A MacDonald, R Lawson, A Grove, Southwell.

Ireland (v Italy, Saturday): R Kearney; T Bowe, B O'Driscoll (c), G D'Arcy, A Trimble; R O'Gara, T O'Leary; C Healy, J Flannery, J Hayes, D O'Callaghan, P O'Connell, K McLaughlin, D Wallace, J Heaslip. Subs: R Best, T Court, L Cullen, S O'Brien, E Reddan, P Wallace, K Earls.