10 Feb Hogg to make historic half-century
Full-back Stuart Hogg will become the youngest player in history to reach a half century of Scotland caps, in a side that features one change to face France in Paris this Sunday in the RBS 6 Nations (12 February, kick-off 3pm GMT) – live on BBC.
At 24 years and 233 days old come kick-off, Hogg will overtake previous record-holder Richie Gray, who made his 50th appearance during the 2015 Rugby World Cup, aged 26.
He will be the 40th Scotland player in history to reach the landmark and the seventh-youngest player in world rugby history to mark a half-century of test appearances.
The 2013 British & Irish Lion and 2016 RBS 6 Nations Player of the Championship moved into joint-fourth (with Iwan Tukalo) on Scotland’s all-time, try-scoring charts (15) when he registered a brace against Ireland in the national team’s opening round win at BT Murrayfield.
Scotland Head Coach Vern Cotter, said: “Congratulations to Hoggy on what will be a special milestone.
“It’s a fantastic personal achievement, especially at such a young age, which is a good indication of how talented an individual he is and how important he’s been to Scotland teams over the past five years.
“He’s a very exciting player and, at just 24, he has a huge amount to offer Scotland for many more years to come.”
Back-row John Barclay is the only change to the starting Scotland side as a straight replacement for Ryan Wilson, who has failed to recover sufficiently from an elbow infection.
Edinburgh Rugby’s John Hardie – who was due to start against Ulster in the Guinness PRO12 tonight (Friday) – is named in the vacated place on the bench.
The rest of the side is unchanged, with man-of-the-match against Ireland, Hogg, returning to marshal the back-field alongside familiar wing-men Sean Maitland and Tommy Seymour.
Try-scorer Alex Dunbar pairs up with Huw Jones in midfield with half-backs Finn Russell and captain Greig Laidlaw also starting.
Cotter has also shown faith in his starting pack, with hooker Fraser Brown – replaced in the 25th minute with an eye injury – returning to start once again.
The replacements are otherwise unchanged, meaning Edinburgh Rugby prop Simon Berghan is primed to make his debut if called upon from the bench.
Cotter added: “France in Paris is a monumental challenge. They have improved markedly since [Head Coach] Guy Noves took charge and will be smarting since their narrow defeat to England at Twickenham last weekend.
“We’re their next opportunity to get their campaign up and running and they’ll be intent on throwing every part of their considerable fire power at us this Sunday.
“We’ll have to match their ferocity while ensuring we take that – and all the other battles we can expect in this game – on our terms, whether that’s in collisions, in set-piece, at the breakdown or in the air.
“This will be an excellent test for this group of players: mentally, physically, tactically and of our skillsets under pressure.
“We will need to be at our relentless best once again.”
Scotland team to play France at the Stade de France in the RBS 6 Nations
Sunday 12 February (kick-off 3pm GMT) – live on BBC
15. Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors) – 49 caps; 15 tries, 3 pens, 84 points
14. Sean Maitland (Saracens) – 27 caps; 5 tries, 25 points
13. Huw Jones (Stormers) – 4 caps; 2 tries, 10 points
12. Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors) – 20 caps; 6 tries, 30 points
11. Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors) – 32 caps, 14 tries, 70 points
10. Finn Russell (Glasgow Warriors) – 23 caps; 2 tries, 3 cons, 1 pen, 19 points
9. Greig Laidlaw (Gloucester) CAPTAIN – 57 caps; 4 tries, 77 cons, 136 pens, 582 points
1. Allan Dell (Edinburgh Rugby) – 4 caps
2. Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) – 21 caps
3. Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) – 5 caps
4. Richie Gray (Toulouse) – 61 caps, 3 tries, 15 points
5. Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors) – 29 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
6. John Barclay (Scarlets) – 56 caps, 4 tries, 20 points
7. Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby) – 6 caps, 1 try, 5 points
8. Josh Strauss (Glasgow Warriors) – 9 caps
16. Ross Ford (Edinburgh Rugby) – 103 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
17. Gordon Reid (Glasgow Warriors) – 20 caps
18. Simon Berghan (Edinburgh Rugby) – uncapped
19. Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors) – 26 caps
20. John Hardie (Edinburgh Rugby) – 13 caps, 3 tries, 15 points
21. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) – 1 cap
22. Duncan Weir (Edinburgh Rugby) – 24 caps; 2 tries, 7 cons, 10 pens, 1 drop, 57 points
23. Mark Bennett (Glasgow Warriors) – 18 caps, 6 tries, 30 points