Scotland head coach Andy Robinson has today challenged his team to demonstrate they can build on their progress in 2010 when they open their RBS 6 Nations Championship campaign against France in Paris on Saturday.
Robinson has made three changes in personnel and two further positional switches from the team that started Scotland’s last match – the success against Samoa in Aberdeen in November – which marked Scotland’s fifth victory in six Test matches.
Nick De Luca returns to win his 20th cap in place of the injured Graeme Morrison at inside centre, Max Evans is preferred to Sean Lamont on the wing and the rejuvenated Glasgow Warriors lock Alastair Kellock resumes as Scotland captain alongside his clubmate, Richie Gray.
The positional switches see Nathan Hines operate at blindside flanker, the berth in which he started Scotland’s victory against world champions South Africa back in November, with Kelly Brown moving to No 8, a role he has enjoyed at club level. Two of the Scotland XV, Gray and Joe Ansbro, will be making their first Championship start, while Nikki Walker makes his first appearance in the competition for three years.
Robinson said: “International rugby is about maintaining forward momentum and, as test matches go, France in the cauldron of Stade de France will be a stern examination. “I’ve remarked before that Scotland have produced some stirring one-off victories in the championship in the recent past and that what we need to do is produce winning performances consistently. “We showed last year that that could be achieved following up our win against Ireland with our tour results in Argentina, though we know that we must be 100% on our top game for that aim to be realised.” Scotland team (sponsor Murray) to play France in the RBS 6 Nations Championship at Stade de France, Paris on Saturday 5 February, kick-off 5pm GMT
15 Hugo Southwell (Stade Francais) 57 caps, 8 tries, 40 points
14 Nikki Walker (Ospreys) 18 caps, 5 tries, 25 points
13 Joe Ansbro (Northampton Saints) 2 caps
12 Nick De Luca (Edinburgh) 19 caps
11 Max Evans (Glasgow Warriors) 15 caps, 2 tries, 10 points 10 Dan Parks (Cardiff Blues) 56 caps, 4 tries, 11 conversions, 42 penalties, 13 drop-goals, 207 points
9 Rory Lawson (Gloucester) 22 caps 1 Allan Jacobsen (Edinburgh) 50 caps
2 Ross Ford (Edinburgh) 43 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
3 Euan Murray (Northampton Saints) 35 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
4 Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors) 6 caps
5 Alastair Kellock (Glasgow Warriors) CAPTAIN 27 caps
6 Nathan Hines (Leinster) 67 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
8 Kelly Brown (Saracens) 40 caps, 3 tries, 15 points
7 John Barclay (Glasgow Warriors) 23 caps, 2 tries, 10 points Substitutes 16 Dougie Hall (Glasgow Warriors) 33 caps, 1 try, 5 points
17 Moray Low (Glasgow Warriors) 10 caps
18 Richie Vernon (Glasgow Warriors) 6 caps
19 Ross Rennie (Edinburgh) 4 caps
20 Mike Blair (Edinburgh) 66 caps, 5 tries, 25 points
21 Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow Warriors) 2 caps, 1 penalty, 3 points
22 Sean Lamont (Scarlets) 50 caps, 7 tries, 35 points Referee: Wayne Barnes (England). Assistant referees: Andrew Small (England) and Stuart Terheege (England). TMO: Giulio de Santis (Italy). Meanwhile tickets remain on sale for all three Scotland games at Murrayfield in this year’s championship – against Wales on Saturday 12 February (5pm kick-off); v Ireland on Sunday 27 February (3pm kick-off); and v Italy on Saturday 19 March (2.30pm kick-off). You can buy tickets at www.scottishrugby.org