Scotland boss Gregor Townsend hints at first choice World Cup team after naming strong side for France Test

Colin Newboult

Scotland's Finn Russell and Blair Kinghorn, who line up at fly-half and full-back respectively against France.

Gregor Townsend has made 13 changes to the Scotland side that defeated Italy for Saturday’s encounter with France at Murrayfield.

Blair Kinghorn is the standout selection with the playmaker being shifted to full-back following the retirement of Stuart Hogg.

He is joined in the back three by Duhan van der Merwe and Darcy Graham, who is just one of two players to retain their places in the XV.

The other is Matt Fagerson, who is in the back-row but shifts from number eight to flanker in the absence of captain Jamie Ritchie.

Finn Russell skippers the side

Ritchie is understood to be carrying an injury, which means that star fly-half Finn Russell is handed the captaincy for the France clash.

There is a familiar look to the playmaking axis, with Ben White joining Russell at half-back and Sione Tuipulotu and Huw Jones lining up in the midfield.

Up front, there are few surprises as Jack Dempsey and Hamish Watson complete the loose trio alongside Fagerson, while Grant Gilchrist and Richie Gray are at lock.

However, there is an interesting inclusion in the front-row with the hugely talented Ewan Ashman coming in at hooker.

Despite impressing for Sale Sharks last season, his game time for Scotland has been limited, but a good performance in this World Cup warm-up would very much put him in the frame.

Ashman will be supported in the scrum by props Zander Fagerson and Pierre Schoeman.

On the bench, Dave Cherry, Jamie Bhatti and WP Nel are the reserve front-row, while last weekend’s captain, Rory Darge, retains his place in the 23.

Scott Cummings, George Horne, Cameron Redpath and Ollie Smith are the other replacements.

The team

Scotland: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Darcy Graham, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Sione Tuipulotu, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Finn Russell (c), 9 Ben White, 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Matt Fagerson, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Ewan Ashman, 1 Pierre Schoeman
Replacements: 16 Dave Cherry, 17 Jamie Bhatti, 18 WP Nel, 19 Scott Cummings, 20 Rory Darge, 21 George Horne, 22 Cameron Redpath, 23 Ollie Smith

Date: Saturday, August 5
Venue: Murrayfield
Kick-off: 15:15 BST (14:15 GMT)
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Frank Murphy (Ireland), Federico Vedovelli (Italy)
TMO: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)

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