George Horne handed rare start as Scotland make three changes for Italy clash

Horne will be the scrum half for the trip to Italy with Andy Christie and Cam Redpath the other alterations to the starting XV

Anthony Brown
Thursday 07 March 2024 10:38 GMT
George Horne will start for Scotland
George Horne will start for Scotland (PA Wire)

Scrum half George Horne has been handed a surprise start for Scotland’s Six Nations showdown with Italy in Rome on Saturday, with Gregor Townsend making three changes to his starting XV.

The 28-year-old Glasgow back has been given the nod to wear the number nine jersey for the first time since the 2019 World Cup. Regular starter Ben White is rested and drops out of the squad altogether, with Ali Price – who has played no part in the tournament – promoted to the bench.

Saracens flanker Andy Christie is handed his first international start in place of Jamie Ritchie, who is among the substitutes.

Bath centre Cameron Redpath made a positive impact off the bench in the 30-21 victory over England and replaces Glasgow’s Sione Tuipulotu, who will miss the remainder of the championship with a knee injury.

Back-rower Matt Fagerson, who dropped out of the 23 altogether for the last match, returns to the bench, with Townsend switching from a 5/3 split to a 6/2.

Discussing the three changes, head coach Townsend said: “It’s disappointing news that Sione is injured. He is a key part of our team, both in terms of how he plays and how he leads.

“Cam is in really good form in training and also when he’s had the opportunities this year. He has a connection with Finn [Russell] from club level which should mean the cohesion is still there, even though we’ve made that change.

“We wanted to reward George [Horne] and Ali [Price, named on the bench] who have been in very good form for us and with their clubs as well. Also, the decision was to give Ben [White] a rest – he’s played a lot of rugby since September/October and a lot of rugby through this period as well, so we feel he needs a recharge this week.

“Andy Christie played a lot of rugby before the Six Nations, he was consistent with Saracens and knocking hard on the door for selection for us. He’s come off the bench in the last two games and really made a difference. He’s added energy, did well in defence and as part of our attack, so he’s earned the right to start.”

The Scots are currently second in the table and need a win to keep their slim championship hopes alive.

Scotland XV: 15. Blair Kinghorn, 14. Kyle Steyn, 13. Huw Jones, 12. Cameron Redpath, 11. Duhan van der Merwe, 10. Finn Russell (co-captain), 9. George Horne; 1. Pierre Schoeman, 2. George Turner, 3. Zander Fagerson, 4. Grant Gilchrist, 5. Scott Cummings, 6. Andy Christie, 7. Rory Darge (co-captain), 8. Jack Dempsey

Replacements:16. Ewan Ashman, 17. Alec Hepburn, 18. Elliot Millar-Mills, 19. Sam Skinner, 20. Jamie Ritchie, 21. Matt Fagerson, 22. Ali Price, 23. Kyle Rowe

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