Scotland’s preparation for their final Six Nations match of the campaign has been hit by injury.
Head Coach Vern Cotter has had a number of problems in this, his final tournament in charge of the nation, and has he prepares to bow out, he will now have to do without Richie Gray in his starting lineup to face Italy on Saturday.
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) March 17, 2017
The Toulouse lock suffered a hamstring injury in the defeat to England last weekend, and despite being named in Cotter’s original starting lineup on Thursday, his failure to recover means that he will not have to sit the match out.
In Gray’s place comes Edinburgh vice-captain Grant Gilchrist, who will play in his first Six Nations match in four years. The 26-year-old was not even named on the list of replacements in Thursday’s original panel, but Cotter has seen fit to draft him straight into the starting fifteen ahead of Tim Swanson, who remains on the bench.
Scotland resource coach Nathan Hines explained that Swanson would be a better option from the bench, as he has been all along throughout the competition:
“We felt the way they both play, Tim would be better to start on the bench, and Grant – with the things he offers around the pitch – would be better suited to start.”
The loss of Gray is just the latest in a long list of injury problems, as the likes of Greig Laidlaw, Josh Strauss and John Hardie have all been ruled out over the course of the campaign.
Scotland will now line up as follows:
Starting XV: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ali Price, 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 John Barclay (Captain), 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Gordon Reid.
Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 Cornell Du Preez, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Duncan Weir, 23 Matt Scott
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