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Uncapped Johnson handed Scotland start for Italy clash

Uncapped Australia-born centre Sam Johnson will make his Scotland debut in their Six Nations opener against Italy on Saturday.

The Glasgow Warriors midfielder, who qualified through residency last year, was denied a Test bow in November due to a knee injury, but will start at Murrayfield this weekend.

Hooker Jake Kerr and back-row Gary Graham could make their first international appearances off the bench against Conor O’Shea’s men.

Gregor Townsend makes six changes to the side that beat Argentina last time out, one of which sees Tommy Seymour replace Sean Maitland (hamstring) on the wing.

Hooker Stuart McInally, lock Ben Toolis, and back-rows Sam Skinner and Ryan Wilson come into the side in place of the injured Fraser Brown, Jonny Gray and Hamish Watson, with Josh Strauss dropping to the bench.

Scrum-half Greig Laidlaw is back to captain his country as Finn Russell switches to fly-half following the inclusion of Johnson.

Italy have also selected one debutant in the form of second row David Sisi, while hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini is set to earn his 100th cap.

Angelo Esposito, whose last international appearance came in November 2017, returns from a lengthy injury lay-off to start on the wing.

 

Scotland: Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Huw Jones, Sam Johnson, Blair Kinghorn, Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw; Allan Dell, Stuart McInally, Willem Nel, Ben Toolis, Grant Gilchrist, Sam Skinner, Jamie Ritchie, Ryan Wilson.

Replacements: Jake Kerr, Jamie Bhatti, Simon Berghan, Gary Graham, Josh Strauss, Ali Price, Adam Hastings, Chris Harris.

 

Italy: Jayden Hayward, Angelo Esposito, Luca Morisi, Tommaso Castello, Michele Campagnaro, Tommaso Allan, Tito Tebaldi; Andrea Lovotti, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Simone Ferrari, David Sisi, Dean Budd, Sebastian Negri, Abraham Steyn, Sergio Parisse (captain).

Replacements: Luca Bigi, Cherif Traore, Tiziano Pasquali, Federico Ruzza, Jimmy Tuivaiti, Gugliemo Palazzani, Ian McKinley, Edoardo Padovani.

 

KEO.co.za News wire is powered by opta

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