Duncan Taylor to make first Scotland start in two years

Date published: August 14 2019

Saracens centre Duncan Taylor will play his first game for Scotland in over two years after being handed a start by Gregor Townsend for their opening World Cup warm-up against France in Nice.

Taylor hasn’t featured for the national team since the 2017 June tour due to injury but will partner Huw Jones in a new-look midfield combination.

The match will be the first of four Test matches for the Scots in the coming weeks, all of which are designed to refine the selection decisions of head coach Townsend, who will name his final squad for Rugby World Cup 2019 next month.

Townsend said: “A huge amount of work has gone in throughout the past two months in order to deliver our best level of performance in the Rugby World Cup.

“These four Tests are a vital part of that process in terms of testing our systems and combinations but also in seeing which players put their best foot forward when it comes to selection for the final 31-man group going to Japan next month.”

Edinburgh hooker Stuart McInally returns as captain having led the side to the dramatic retention of the Calcutta Cup in the Six Nations finale earlier this year and takes to the field in a near all-Edinburgh pack.

He partners tighthead prop Simon Berghan and the club’s new signing Jamie Bhatti in the front-row, with Grant Gilchrist and Ben Toolis returning to start in the second-row as they did at Twickenham.

John Barclay (vice-captain) and Jamie Ritchie complete the capital club’s contribution in the back-row with Blue Bulls number eight Josh Strauss starting at the tail of the pack.

Glasgow Warriors pivot Adam Hastings is handed his first start since the 2018 November Test victory over Argentina, alongside clubmate and scrum-half Ali Price.

Full-back and vice-captain Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs) anchors the back three with fellow Hawick man Darcy Graham (Edinburgh) and Sale Sharks’ Byron McGuigan on the wing to complete the starting side.

There are notable inclusions in the match-day squad for Glasgow Warriors lock Scott Cummings and Northampton Saints midfielder Rory Hutchinson, who will make their Test debuts if called upon from the bench in Nice this Saturday.

Townsend added: “As a coaching group we’re pleased to be able to take a strong squad across to France for this opening Test. We’ve enjoyed seeing the players working hard and becoming closer as a team in our camp.

“We’ve been impressed by the quality of play they’ve delivered in training but fundamentally it’s been about preparing to play. We’re now very much looking forward to seeing our men perform in these Test matches.”

Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Darcy Graham, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Duncan Taylor, 11 Byron McGuigan, 10 Adam Hastings, 9 Ali Price, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Jamie Ritchie, 6 John Barclay, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Ben Toolis, 3 Simon Berghan, 2 Stuart McInally (c), 1 Jamie Bhatti
Replacements: 16 George Turner, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 Zander Fagerson, 19 Scott Cummings, 20 Matt Fagerson, 21 George Horne, 22 Rory Hutchinson, 23 Blair Kinghorn

Date: Saturday, August 17
Venue: Allianz Riviera, Nice
Kick-off: 21:00 local (20:00 BST, 19:00 GMT)
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)