Grant Gilchrist, the 22-year-old Edinburgh Rugby lock, will win his first cap for Scotland in Saturday’s final 2013 RBS 6 Nations Championship match against France in Paris.
Gilchrist, the 6ft 8ins product of the Alloa and Stirling County clubs, replaces the injured Richie Gray. The only other change to the starting line-up sees the experienced Alasdair Strokosch preferred to Rob Harley at blindside flanker.
Strokosch had started the championship in the number six jersey but injury in the opening match against England at Twickenham sidelined him from Scotland’s next three outings.
Gilchrist, a winner of the 2011 John Macphail Scholarship – which saw him play club rugby in New Zealand – was an unused replacement on the bench when Scotland lost to Tonga in Aberdeen in November.
He told www.scottishrugby.org :
It’s a very special moment. It’s a massive opportunity for me and I just can’t wait for Saturday.
Scotland interim head coach Scott Johnson said: “We have made some progress in this championship and it would be ideal to cement that by a winning performance in Paris. But the needle is stuck in the same groove as far as my view on Saturday’s Test.
“We’ve got to get our basics right. We’ve got to win the contact area, be disciplined in our approach, and get some front-foot ball for our backs. We also want to end the championship on a high.
“I’ve been impressed with Gilco. I’ve spoken of form and future and he fits the bill in the latter category but he’s also keen as mustard and we want to look at him in the company of a very good French side.
“We looked at every position in detail after last weekend and we reckoned that Strokosch’s experience gave him the nod in the back-row.
“We’re not reading much at all into where France are in the table. France are wounded right now and we expect them to come out all guns blazing on Saturday.
“But the target for us is to concentrate on our game and aim to be as high up the table as possible come full-time in Paris.”
Scotland team to play France in the RBS 6 Nations Championship at Stade de France, Paris on Saturday 16 March (kick-off 8pm GMT)
15 Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors) 14 caps, 3 tries, 15 points
14 Sean Maitland (Glasgow Warriors) 4 caps, 1 try, 5 points
13 Sean Lamont (Glasgow Warriors) 75 caps, 9 tries, 45 points
12 Matt Scott (Edinburgh Rugby) 11 caps, 1 try, 5 points
11 Tim Visser (Edinburgh Rugby) 9 caps, 5 tries, 25 points
10 Duncan Weir (Glasgow Warriors) 4 caps, 1 conversion, 2 points
9 Greig Laidlaw (Edinburgh Rugby) vice-captain, 17 caps, 2 tries, 16 conversions and 36 penalties, 150 points
1 Ryan Grant (Glasgow Warriors) vice-captain, 9 caps
2 Ross Ford (Edinburgh Rugby) 67 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
3 Euan Murray (Worcester Warriors) 52 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
4 Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby) uncapped (Scotland cap number 1039)
5 Jim Hamilton (Gloucester) 45 caps, 1 try, 5 points
6 Alasdair Strokosch (Perpignan) 31 caps, 1 try, 5 points
7 Kelly Brown (Saracens) captain, 56 caps, 4 tries, 20 points
8 Johnnie Beattie (Montpellier) 20 caps, 3 tries, 15 points
16 Dougie Hall (Glasgow Warriors) 41 caps, 1 try, 5 points
17 Moray Low (Glasgow Warriors) 17 caps
18 Geoff Cross (Edinburgh Rugby) 20 caps, 1 try, 5 points
19 Alastair Kellock (Glasgow Warriors) 51 caps, 1 try, 5 points
20 Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors) 1 cap
21 Henry Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors) 5 caps, 1 try, 5 points
22 Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow Warriors) 19 caps, 2 conversions, 2 penalties, 2 drop-goals, 16 points
23 Max Evans (Castres) 34 caps, 3 tries, 15 points
Not considered due to injury: Alasdair Dickinson and Richie Gray (Sale Sharks), Chris Cusiter and Chris Fusaro (both Glasgow Warriors), David Denton and Ross Rennie (both Edinburgh Rugby) and Tom Heathcote (Bath Rugby).
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales). Assistant referees: George Clancy (Ireland) and Lourens Van Der Merwe (South Africa). TMO: Carlo Damasco (Italy)