Scotland fly-half Finn Russell kept his place as coach Gregor Townsend named an unchanged starting side on Wednesday for this weekend’s Six Nations international against England at Murrayfield. Russell was taken off by Townsend in the 65th minute of Scotland’s 32-26 win at home to France last time out, with experienced scrum-half Greig Laidlaw moving across to fly-half. Ali Price, Russell’s house-mate, came off the bench to take over from Laidlaw at scrum-half.
But Townsend, a bold playmaker in his time as a Scotland international, has retained the mercurial Russell in his XV for Saturday’s match against Six Nations champions England, who remain on course for a Grand Slam after wins over Italy and Wales.
Five members of Scotland’s back division are all British and Irish Lions — Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Sean Maitland, Russell and Laidlaw.
Townsend has, however, made changes on the bench with prop WP Nel, a renowned scrummager, and lock Tim Swinson among the replacements, where they have been joined by Nick Grigg following the Glasgow centre’s man-of-the-match performance against the Cheetahs in the Pro 14 last Friday.
– ‘Found a way to win’ –
Scotland had to twice overturn 10-point deficits against France before winning a match where they scored 12 unanswered points in the final quarter, having suffered an embarrassing 34-7 loss away to Wales in their tournament opener.
“The players put a huge amount of effort into our win over France,” said Townsend. “They found a way to win and kept attacking the opposition up until the final whistle.
“England are the number two side in the world and have shown a very good level of consistency in the past couple of seasons.”
He added: “They have a very good defence, an excellent set-piece and like to get 10 (fly-half) and 12 (inside centre) on the ball as much as possible in attack.
“Taking on England is going to be a huge challenge and we are well aware that only our very best will be good enough in this fixture.”
England coach Eddie Jones is due to name his side on Thursday.
Scotland team to play England (15-1)
Stuart Hogg; Tommy Seymour, Huw Jones, Pete Horne, Sean Maitland; Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw; Ryan Wilson, Hamish Watson, John Barclay (capt); Jonny Gray, Grant Gilchrist; Simon Berghan, Stuart McInally, Gordon Reid
Replacements: Scott Lawson, Jamie Bhatti, Willem Nel, Tim Swinson, David Denton, Ali Price, Nick Grigg, Blair Kinghorn
As published on AFP