Horne at ten for Scotland

Date published: February 26 2015

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Glasgow Warriors fly-half Peter Horne will start at number ten for Scotland in their Six Nations fixture against Italy at Murrayfield on Saturday.

Horne, who helped orchestrate his Guinness PRO12-leading club's back-to-back wins over Zebre and Ospreys – man of the match in the former – is a replacement for suspended club-mate Finn Russell, whose appeal was overruled by a Six Nations disciplinary committee on Wednesday.

He is one of four changes to the XV, with second-row Tim Swinson the only other to be enforced. He takes on the starting berth of the injured Richie Gray (arm).

The front-line alterations are completed with the return of Glasgow Warriors wing Tommy Seymour and prop Euan Murray, who start in place of Tim Visser and Geoff Cross, having missed the Wales match through injury (hip) and religious beliefs respectively.

"We're very wary of Italy and feel that they have improved. They are a team that will be targeting this game, so we must be prepared to roll our sleeves up and work very hard to get a result," said Scotland head coach Vern Cotter.

"They are a big, physical team – bigger than us – so we will have to be technically strong and well connected as a group to withstand what will be a strong assault on our defensive line.

"We're very focused on what we do and what we want to achieve, which is to apply pressure that yields points, create line breaks and tackle breaks and develop our speed in this game.

"If we keep developing our belief and our skill sets, and our attitude to the game and our standards we'll get what we're aiming for, which is the win."

Cotter has made four changes to the replacements' bench, with props Ryan Grant and Cross replacing Gordon Reid (knee) and Jon Welsh (hand), who were injured against Wales.

On the bench, promising young Edinburgh duo Ben Toolis (22) and Hamish Watson (23) are poised to make their senior international debuts having taken the places of injured lock Jim Hamilton (groin) and back-row Alasdair Strokosch.

Replacement scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne completed his graduated return to play protocol to retain his place in the squad, having shown signs of delayed concussion after the match against Wales.

"We have youth and experience in this group of players and when we look at our performances, we've improved from one week to the next, so that's positive," Cotter added.

"We've stayed focused on the process. The players have been very honest, but we're enjoying what we're doing and that's important.

"We focus on the here, the now, and what's next, in the knowledge that what we do now can influence what comes next."

Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 Sean Lamont, 10 Peter Horne, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 Johnnie Beattie, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Alasdair Dickinson.
Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Ryan Grant, 18 Geoff Cross, 19 Ben Toolis, 20 Hamish Watson, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Greig Tonks, 23 Matt Scott.

Date: Saturday, February 28
Kick-off: 14:30 GMT
Venue: Murrayfield
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Romain Poite (France), Leighton Hodges (Wales)
Television match official: Graham Hughes (England)
Assessor: Lyndon Bray (New Zealand)

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