Scotland change two for France

Date published: March 11 2016

1022.6666666666666x767__origin__0x0_Scotland_back_row_Josh_Strauss_at_training

Scotland head coach Vern Cotter has made two changes to his starting XV for Sunday’s clash with France at Murrayfield.

Glasgow Warriors duo Josh Strauss and Alex Dunbar will start their first match of the 2016 championship at number eight and centre respectively, with the occasion marking a first home appearance for Strauss, who debuted during Rugby World Cup 2015.

Strauss switches places with club mate Ryan Wilson – a late change against Italy for the injured David Denton, who remains sidelined with a groin injury – and is the only change to the bench.

Dunbar’s selection at inside-centre sees Duncan Taylor move outfield to take the place of Mark Bennett.

Cotter, said: “It’s great to be back at home after a good win on the road. The players are really looking forward to putting in a top performance at Murrayfield this weekend.

“The win in Rome was a reward for the hard work the players have put in to the championship so far, but the hard work never stops. We must be relentless.

“We’re expecting the French to be physical. They have a culture of trying to dominate their opposition. They are confrontational and will try to keep the ball alive, so we will have to put in a great defensive performance.

“They also have the ability to channel their power through their set-piece, though that is a challenge our pack in particular are relishing, having put in some impressive performances of their own so far.

“We’re looking forward to varying our game, holding the ball and striving to score at every opportunity.

“Work-rate and concentration will be key, and a sustained effort for 80 minutes will be very important.”

The Scotland team is otherwise unchanged, meaning stand-off Finn Russell partners captain Greig Laidlaw at half-back, with the skipper in line to make a half-century of international appearances and equal the record held by former prop David Sole as the most times to captain the country (25).

The back division is completed by Stuart Hogg (full-back) and Tim Visser (wing) who partner Tommy Seymour – two-time try-scorer in this year’s campaign – in the back three.

For the sixth successive Test match, Edinburgh’s formidable front-row Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford and Willem Nel pack down with brothers Jonny and Richie Gray at lock, while John Hardie and John Barclay – try scorers in the last round’s win over Italy in Rome – return to partner Strauss in the loose forwards.

Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Duncan Taylor, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 Josh Strauss, 7 John Hardie, 6 John Barclay, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Willem Nel, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Alasdair Dickinson
Replacements: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 Rory Sutherland, 18 Moray Low, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 Ryan Wilson, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Pete Horne, 23 Sean Lamont

Date: Suday, 13 March
Venue: Murrayfield
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Marius Mitrea (FIR)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

COMMENTS