Scotland make four changes for France game

 

Scotland head coach Andy Robinson has made four changes in personnel for Sunday's RBS 6 Nations clash with France at Murrayfield.

Stuart Hogg is to make his first Test start at full-back, with his Glasgow Warriors team-mates John Barclay and Graeme Morrison recalled at blindside flanker and inside centre, respectively.

Mike Blair has been called up at scrum-half, with two positional switches - Sean Lamont moving from inside to outside centre and Rory Lamont from full-back to the right wing.

Two of the changes were enforced, with Barclay replacing Alasdair Strokosch, who has been ruled out of the tournament with a fractured hand, and wing Max Evans unavailable for selection due to an ankle injury.

Strokosch and Evans joined London Irish centre Joe Ansbro and Saracens back-row Kelly Brown in being unavailable for selection.

Hooker Ross Ford has been retained as captain and is joined in the front row by Edinburgh team-mates Allan Jacobsen and Geoff Cross, who lines up at tighthead with Euan Murray unavailable for Sunday games for religious reasons.

Richie Gray is joined in the second row by Jim Hamilton, who has shaken off a throat infection, while the back row is comprised of Barclay, Ross Rennie and David Denton.

Blair, who replaces Chris Cusiter at scrum-half, joins fly-half Greig Laidlaw at half-back, having combined effectively for Edinburgh this season.

Laidlaw is set to start his second Test and win his fifth cap.

The selection of Morrison and Sean Lamont at centre brings a physicality to Scotland's midfield, with Nick De Luca dropping out of the starting XV.

Robinson admitted the absence of Evans forced the change and he believes Morrison has returned to form.

The head coach said: "Graeme Morrison has worked hard back at Glasgow and captained the team in their games against Scarlets and Connacht. He is a good ball-carrier and has something to prove on his return to the Scotland team."

With the call-up of Hogg, who replaced Evans during the first half of the 27-13 loss to Wales on February 12, Rory Lamont is set to switch on to the wing, with Jones on the other wing where he is poised to win his third cap.

On the selection of Hogg, Robinson added: "Stuart Hogg did well off the bench in Cardiff, stood out in the A team victory over England Saxons and has been one of Glasgow's most consistent performers this season. He fully deserves his first start."

Cusiter and De Luca are joined on the replacements' bench by hooker Scott Lawson, prop Ed Kalman, lock Alastair Kellock, back-row Richie Vernon and fly-half Duncan Weir.

That means there was no place for fit again fly-half Ruaridh Jackson.

Scotland team to play France in the RBS 6 Nations match at Murrayfield on Sunday, February 26 (kick-off 1500):

S Hogg (Glasgow Warriors); R Lamont (Glasgow Warriors), S Lamont (Scarlets), G Morrison (Glasgow Warriors), L Jones (Edinburgh); G Laidlaw (Edinburgh), M Blair (Edinburgh); A Jacobsen (Edinburgh), R Ford (capt, Edinburgh), G Cross (Edinburgh), R Gray (Glasgow Warriors), J Hamilton (Gloucester), J Barclay (Glasgow Warriors), R Rennie (Edinburgh), D Denton (Edinburgh).

Replacements: S Lawson (Gloucester), E Kalman (Glasgow Warriors), A Kellock (Glasgow Warriors), R Vernon (Sale Sharks), C Cusiter (Glasgow Warriors), D Weir (Glasgow Warriors), N De Luca (Edinburgh).

PA

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