25 Feb Visser wings in for Scotland
Fit-again Scotland wing Tim Visser is the only change to the starting Scotland side named today to face Italy this Saturday at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome (kick-off 2.25pm GMT, 3.25pm local) – live on ITV.
Visser – who has scored 10 tries in 23 Tests – was included in the original squad, but a hamstring injury ruled him out of the opening rounds, returning to action in the past fortnight with two 80-minute outings for his club side Harlequins.
His inclusion in an otherwise unchanged team sees cap centurion Sean Lamont move to the bench, where Head Coach Vern Cotter has made four further changes.
Exeter Chiefs prop Moray Low will look to add to his 29 caps with a first appearance for Scotland since the 2014 summer tour, while 23-year-old Edinburgh Rugby loose-head, Rory Sutherland, is primed for his international debut.
Other changes on the bench see Glasgow Warriors back-row Ryan Wilson and centre Peter Horne named among the replacements, after returning to the squad this week, with Horne proving his readiness in Glasgow Warriors’ bonus-point win over Munster.
Scotland Head Coach, Vern Cotter, said: “After a week off from the Championship, we have returned to camp fresh and fit, and have prepared well for what will be another formidable opponent.
“Italy have shown they are a talented team, particularly in their performance away against France, but also in the first-half against England.
“They surprised both teams with their physicality, intensity and quality, all of which we will have to be ready for, and at least equal to, if we are to win in Rome this weekend.
“We have worked hard to improve our game and will stay true to the core values of this team, which is to work hard but stay calm; have belief in our systems, ourselves, and enjoy the opportunity.”
Scotland and Italy have met 25 times in all, Scotland winning 17, including the two most recent fixtures that saw the Scots secure a home (48-7) and away (16-14) double in preparation for Rugby World Cup 2015.
Honours are even in the past two RBS 6 nations meetings however, with each sides winning away.
Scotland team to play Italy at the Stadio Olimpico this Saturday in the RBS 6 Nations Championship
(kick-off 2.25pm GMT, 3.25pm local) – live on ITV
15 Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors) – 40 caps; 9 tries, 2 pens, 51 points
14 Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors) – 24 caps; 12 tries, 60 points
13 Mark Bennett (Glasgow Warriors) – 15 caps; 6 tries, 30 points
12 Duncan Taylor (Saracens) – 14 caps; 1 try, 5 points
11 Tim Visser (Harlequins) – 23 caps; 10 tries, 50 points
10 Finn Russell (Glasgow Warriors) – 17 caps; 2 tries, 3 cons, 1 pen, 19 points
9 Greig Laidlaw CAPTAIN (Gloucetser) – 48 caps; 4 tries, 58 cons, 110 pens, 466 points
1 Alasdair Dickinson (Edinburgh Rugby) – 54 caps; 2 tries, 10 points
2 Ross Ford (Edinburgh Rugby) – 96 caps; 2 tries, 10 points
3 Willem Nel (Edinburgh Rugby) – 10 caps; 1 try, 5 points
4 Richie Gray (Castres) – 53 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
5 Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors) – 21 caps; 1 try, 5 points
6 John Barclay (Scarlets) – 47 caps; 3 tries, 15 points
7 John Hardie (Edinburgh Rugby) – 7 caps; 2 tries, 10 points
8 David Denton (Bath Rugby) – 34 caps
16 Stuart McInally (Edinburgh Rugby) – 4 caps
17 Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh Rugby) – uncapped
18 Moray Low (Exeter Chiefs) – 29 caps
19 Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors) – 19 caps
20 Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors) – 15 caps
21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (Edinburgh Rugby) – 9 caps
22 Peter Horne (Glasgow Warriors) – 15 caps, 2 tries, 1 con, 1 pen, 15 points
23 Sean Lamont (Glasgow Warriors) – 102 caps; 14 tries, 40 points