|2018 Six Nations|
|Venue: Murrayfield Date: Saturday, 2 February Kick-off: 14:15 GMT|
|Coverage: Watch live on BBC One, Connected TVs, online and BBC Sport app from 13:45 GMT; listen on BBC Radio 5 live; text commentary on BBC Sport website.|
Australia-born Glasgow centre Sam Johnson will make his debut for Scotland in their Six Nations opener against Italy on Saturday.
Newcastle flanker Gary Graham and Leicester hooker Jake Kerr could also make their first appearances off the bench, while Ben Toolis starts at lock in an all-Edinburgh front five.
Glasgow’s Tommy Seymour replaces the injured Sean Maitland on the wing.
Former England under-20 international David Sisi makes his Italy debut.
Hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini earns a 100th cap, while captain Sergio Parisse makes a record 66th Six Nations appearance.
Scotland: 15-Stuart Hogg, 14-Tommy Seymour, 13-Huw Jones, 12-Sam Johnson, 11-Blair Kinghorn; 10-Finn Russell, 9-Greig Laidlaw; 1-Allan Dell, 2-Stuart McInally, 3-Willem Nel, 4-Ben Toolis, 5-Grant Gilchrist, 6-Sam Skinner, 7-Jamie Ritchie, 8-Ryan Wilson.
Replacements: 16-Jake Kerr, 17-Jamie Bhatti, 18-Simon Berghan, 19-Gary Graham, 20-Josh Strauss, 21-Ali Price, 22-Adam Hastings, 23-Chris Harris.
Italy: 15-Jayden Hayward, 14-Angelo Esposito, 13-Luca Morisi, 12-Tommaso Castello, 11-Michele Campagnaro; 10-Tommaso Allan, 9-Tito Tebaldi; 1-Andrea Lovotti, 2-Leonardo Ghiraldini, 3-Simone Ferrari, 4-David Sisi, 5-Dean Budd, 6-Sebastian Negri, 7-Braam Steyn, 8-Sergio Parisse.
Replacements: 16-Luca Bigi, 17-Cherif Traore, 18-Tiziano Pasquali, 19-Jimmy Tuivaiti, 20-Federico Ruzza, 21-Guglielmo Palazzani, 22-Ian McKinley, 23-Edoardo Padovani.
Andrew Cotter: Everybody stresses the need for a winning start to the Six Nations and for the first time since the format moved to six teams in 2000, Scotland open by hosting Italy.
While Gregor Townsend’s squad depth is improving, injuries still bite harder than with other countries. Hamish Watson will be missed on the open-side flank and perhaps there is still a lack of a hefty ball-carrier in the pack.
It will also be fascinating to see if new boy Sam Johnson at centre can fit into an exciting back line and get on the wavelength of Finn Russell at fly-half.
Sergio Parisse will once more lead Italy on his 135th cap, while hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini racks up a century. There is also new blood in former England under-20 international David Sisi in the second row.
Scotland will be confident and start as favourites, but will also know that they are so often pushed close by the Azzurri. And those with longer memories will remember how that very first Six Nations game went, 19 years ago.
View from both camps
Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend on debutant Sam Johnson: “He’s been in Scotland for over three years now, worked his way into the Glasgow team and then became one of their best players.
“His parents are flying over from Australia but he’s settled in Scotland and feels very much part of our country. I do think he’s ready for this next step up.
“You need a body of work behind you, you need to perform at the highest level for your club, which is the Champions Cup. Two seasons ago he played some excellent games for Glasgow in that competition and was voted the players’ player of the season.
“He’s also played well this year when he’s had those opportunities.”
Italy head coach Conor O’Shea on progress made by Scotland: “They’re a great example to everybody of what you can do when you get your structures right.
“And it’s not something that happened overnight. I think it’s a perfect, perfect demonstration to Italian rugby what can be achieved with patience and perseverance. That’s it in a nutshell.”
- Scotland are the only team Italy have beaten away from home in the Six Nations. The Azzurri triumphed 37-17 at Murrayfield in 2007, and 22-19 in 2015.
- In the last meeting between the sides in 2018, the Scots needed a 79th-minute penalty by Greig Laidlaw to win 29-27 in Rome.
- Scotland could win seven consecutive home matches in this tournament for the first time since a run of eight victories in 1975.
- They have lost just twice in their last 13 homes games (W11), with those defeats coming against South Africa in November 2018 and New Zealand in November 2017.
- Scotland have scored 406 points in those 13 home matches, at an average of 31 points per game.
- Italy have won just three times in 23 matches, losing 20.
- However, two of those victories came in 2018, against Georgia and Japan.
- The Azzurri have won just twice away from home in the Six Nations, losing 45 matches.
- They have lost their last 17 Six Nations fixtures, conceding 718 points, an average of 42 per game.
Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Touch judges: Mathieu Raynal (France) & Shuhei Kubo (Japan)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)
Source link : https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/46799568
Publish date : 2019-01-31 18:10:45