Sat, 05 Dec 2020

Finn Russell will start for Scotland in their Six Nations finale away to Wales at Llanelli this weekend after being named at flyhalf by coach Gregor Townsend on Thursday.

Russell's international exile ended when he came off the bench during last week's 48-7 warm-up thrashing of Georgia at Murrayfield.

Meanwhile Scotland captain Stuart Hogg and lock Jonny Gray return after helping Exeter clinch a European Champions Cup and English Premiership double during the previous fortnight.

Gifted playmaker Russell, now with Paris-based Racing 92, the losing Champions Cup finalists, had not featured for Scotland since last year's World Cup after disciplinary issues and a falling out with Townsend saw him miss the opening rounds of the Six Nations.

But player and coach have since repaired their relationship, with Russell looking sharp against Georgia.

Adam Hastings, the starting fly-half against the Lelos, drops to the bench as does try-scoring debutant Duhan van der Merwe.

Blair Kinghorn replaces Van der Merwe on the wing after filling in for Hogg at fullback.

In the pack, No 8 Blade Thomson starts on his Scarlets home ground in place of the injured Matt Fagerson.

"It's been great to bring in quality and experience to our starting line-up with players such as Stuart, Jonny and Finn who have been involved in some high-level games in recent weeks," said Townsend in a Scottish Rugby Union statement.

"We were also encouraged by Blade's display at the weekend for Scarlets, which is a timely boost given last weekend's injury to Matt Fagerson."

Victory on Saturday would give Scotland their first success on Welsh soil since 2002 and mean they end the coronavirus-interrupted Championship with an encouraging three wins from five games, having already defeated Italy and title-chasing France.

"We were highly motivated back in March, and that extra edge has come back into our training and preparations this week," said Townsend.

The former Scotland fly-half's team will be up against a Wales side looking to end a run of four successive defeats.

"We are expecting a physical battle against a very good side, one which we will be working hard to stay in the fight and to finish the fight in Llanelli," said Townsend.

The behind-closed-doors match has been moved to Parc Y Scarlets after Wales' Principality Stadium headquarters in Cardiff was commissioned as a field hospital by the Welsh government in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Scotland

15 Stuart Hogg (captain); 14 Darcy Graham, 13 Chris Harris, 12 James Lang, 11 Blair Kinghorn; 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ali Price; 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie; 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Scott Cummings; 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Rory Sutherland

Substitutes: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Ben Toolis, 20 Cornell du Preez, 21 Scott Steele, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Duhan van der Merwe

Source: News24

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