DARCY GRAHAM will make his first start for Scotland against Wales on Saturday, one of four personnel changes made by head coach Gregor Townsend from the 15 that began the loss in Paris. The Edinburgh winger, who made his first Test appearance off the bench in the Doddie Weir International against the Welsh back in November, was also a replacement in the defeat by France in the last round of the Six Nations. He comes in on the wing in place of the injured Sean Maitland.
The other changes see Ali Price take over from Greig Laidlaw at scrum-half, Finn Russell return at stand-off, and WP Nel come back at tighthead prop. Pete Horne moves from 10 to 12 to accommodate Russell, who missed the France game because of injury, while Sam Johnson drops out.
With Laidlaw among the substitutes, the captaincy goes to Stuart McInally. On the bench, loosehead Gordon Reid, openside Hamish Watson and wing Byron McGuigan are all in the squad for the first time in this Championship.
“It’s a game that we’ll do all we can to win,” Townsend said after announcing his team. “We’re out of the running for the championship, but we still want to play to our potential and show a true picture of what we’re capable of and finish as high up as we can.
“Playing at home requires even more determination. It’s our last home game of the season, so it’s time we delivered an 80-minute performance.
“We had two weeks to reflect on why things didn’t work over in France. Part of that is how we coached and what we did in training, tactically, how we played the game, but also selection. We looked at every position and we also reflected on the fact we’re out of the championship – so if someone has earned their opportunity, Ali Price for example, this is a good time to see if it helps the team win at the weekend.
“Greig is the only player who has started our past six Tests so he’s a key part of the squad. He will have a different role off the bench but he will have an important part to play on Saturday.”
Townsend also paid tribute to the two players who will be winning their 50th caps, lock Jonny Gray and wing Tommy Seymour will win their 50th caps. “Getting to 50 caps for your country is a milestone in a player’s career and it underlines the consistency and quality both Tommy and Jonny have delivered for Scotland over the years,” he said.
“Tommy has started all his games and has an impressive try-scoring record, which is a fundamental element of the game for a winger. As well as his finishing ability, his excellent work rate off the ball and outstanding aerial skills have been the key reasons why he’s reached a half century of appearances for Scotland.
“Jonny is an exceptional player who came through as a young man and, by becoming the second-youngest player to win 50 caps, shows just how well he’s played in that relatively short time.
“He has a phenomenal work rate, is a very accurate tackler and takes real pride in helping the team prepare, as well as continually looking for ways to improve his own game.”
Scotland (v Wales at Murrayfield, Saturday, 2.15pm): Blair Kinghorn; Tommy Seymour, Nick Grigg, Pete Horne, Darcy Graham; Finn Russell, Ali Price; Allan Dell, Stuart McInally (captain), WP Nel, Grant Gilchrist, Jonny Gray, Magnus Bradbury, Jamie Ritchie, Josh Strauss.. Substitutes: Fraser Brown, Gordon Reid, Simon Berghan, Ben Toolis,Hamish Watson, Greig Laidlaw, Adam Hastings, Byron McGuigan.