Scotland have made three changes to their starting XV and three more changes to their bench for Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations Championship match against England at Murrayfield.
There’s a new cap at openside flanker where Chris Fusaro (pictured above), the 24-year-old Glasgow Warrior, a product of Bell Baxter High School and the Howe of Fife club, who has graduated from Scotland 7s and Scotland A, replaces Kelly Brown. Fusaro will be Scotland’s 1052nd cap.
Fusaro told scottishrugby.org “I’m absolutely delighted. Being the Calcutta Cup, there’s no better game to get your first cap. I’m still pinching myself a bit.”
Tommy Seymour will enjoy his first championship experience as he comes in for his injured Glasgow Warriors team-mate Sean Maitland on the wing, while Matt Scott, the Edinburgh Rugby centre, is promoted from the bench with Duncan Taylor now among the substitutes.
Two other amendments on the bench see the experienced hooker Scott Lawson given the nod over Pat MacArthur and the younger of the Gray siblings, Jonny, preferred to Richie.
Greig Laidlaw resumes the role of captaincy that he has now undertaken on three occasions, twice against South Africa and once against Italy.
Scotland head coach Scott Johnson said it had been a “difficult” decision to omit Brown but that Fusaro’s skills as a ball-winner on the deck had been key in the selectors’ deliberations.
“Fusaro is picked to do a certain role and we believe there’s an opportunity for him to do it. England are powerful, they have an edge to their side and are assertive and aggressive. They will probably consider themselves unlucky last weekend but it’s not always brute force that wins these games.”
Of the other changes to the starting team Johnson said: “I spoke to Tommy (Seymour) in the summer that he needed a point of difference. One of the things that comes to mind is his aerial skills. He possesses natural aerial skills from his time in Ireland. Every time he has gone up in class his skills have transcended.”
Johnson said that Duncan Taylor’s form made it a tough decision for him to begin on the bench rather than the starting XV but the Saracens’ man’s ability to cover a number of positions in the backline had been a factor, especially in the aftermath to the injury to Maitland.
Johnson also is excited by the resumption of the centre partnership between Scott and Alex Dunbar which shaped very promisingly during last summer’s tour to South Africa.
He added: “We are all looking forward hugely to Saturday’s match. You want the rivalry that exists. It’s intense and great to be part of.”
Scotland team (sponsor RBS) to play England in the RBS 6 Nations Championship at Murrayfield on Saturday 8 February, kick-off 5pm
15 Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors) 16 caps, 3 tries, 15 points
14 Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors) 5 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
13 Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors) 4 caps, 1 try, 5 points
12 Matt Scott (Edinburgh Rugby) 17 caps, 3 tries, 15 points
11 Sean Lamont (Glasgow Warriors) 83 caps, 12 tries, 60 points
10 Duncan Weir (Glasgow Warriors) 9 caps, 1 try, 2 conversions, 9 points
9 Greig Laidlaw (Edinburgh Rugby) CAPTAIN 25 caps, 3 tries, 23 conversions, 56 penalties, 229 points
1 Ryan Grant (Glasgow Warriors) 14 caps
2 Ross Ford (Edinburgh Rugby (72 caps, 2 tries, 10 points)
3 Moray Low (Glasgow Warriors) 24 caps
4 Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors) 4 caps
5 Jim Hamilton (Montpellier) 51 caps, 1 try, 5 points
6 Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors) 5 caps
7 Chris Fusaro (Glasgow Warriors) uncapped
8 David Denton (Edinburgh Rugby) 18 caps
16 Scott Lawson (Newcastle Falcons) 39 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
17 Alasdair Dickinson (Edinburgh Rugby) 31 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
18 Geoff Cross (Edinburgh Rugby) 24 caps, 1 try, 5 points
19 Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors) 2 caps
20 Johnnie Beattie (Montpellier) 27 caps, 3 tries, 15 points
21 Chris Cusiter (Glasgow Warriors) 65 caps, 3 tries, 15 points
22 Duncan Taylor (Saracens) 7 caps
23 Max Evans (Castres) 38 caps, 3 tries, 15 points
Referee: Jerome Garces (France). Assistant referee: George Clancy (Ireland) and Mike Fraser (New Zealand). TMO: Eric Gauzins (France).