Murray celebrates 50th cap with captaincy

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The Independent Online

Scott Murray will captain Scotland in their World Cup warm-up against Italy at Murrayfield on Saturday as he becomes only the 16th player to win 50 caps or more in the nation's dark blue.

It completes a remarkable comeback for the Edinburgh Rugby player, named the country's player of the year for 2002, after he was dropped during this year's Six Nations Championship because of poor form.

The Musselburgh-born 27-year-old admits being named captain was the furthest thing from his mind when he found himself out of Ian McGeechan's side. "It was a big surprise," he said. "Obviously I was pretty pleased but pretty nervous at the same time."

He joins the regular captain, Bryan Redpath, the hooker Gordon Bulloch, the winger Kenny Logan and the record cap winner Gregor Townsend from the current squad in winning a half century of caps for Scotland. McGeechan announces the rest of his side today.

Meanwhile, Ireland have retained just three players from the weekend win over Wales for their own Test against Italy a week Saturday in Limerick.

David Humphreys, Geordan Murphy and Brian O'Driscoll are the only survivors from the 35-12 win at Lansdowne Road last Saturday who are included in a 22-man squad. The back-rower Victor Costello, a late withdrawal from the Welsh game because of a calf strain, is in the squad as are the prop John Hayes and the wing Denis Hickie, both of whom missed the summer tour to Australia, Tonga and Samoa because of groin injuries.

* Tim Stimpson, the Leicester and England full-back, has reportedly signed a three-year contract with Perpignan. The 29-year-old will stay with the Tigers until December while Geordan Murphy is on World Cup duty with Ireland.

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