Scotland have decided against throwing Zander Fagerson straight back into action in Saturday’s Six Nations opener away to England.
Forwards coach John Dalziel said on Tuesday the Glasgow prop was in contention for the Calcutta Cup showdown despite being sidelined since the start of December with a hamstring injury.
However, management have opted to give the 2021 British and Irish Lions squad member more time to get up to speed as he has not been included in the side for this weekend’s match at Twickenham.
WP Nel, the 36-year-old Edinburgh prop, takes over from Fagerson in the number three jersey.
Other notable selections include London Irish scrum-half Ben White getting the nod over regular number nine Ali Price, who is not even on the bench.
Chris Harris – who starts on the bench – is another surprise omission from the XV, with Huw Jones taking over from the Gloucester centre.
Kyle Steyn has beaten off competition from Blair Kinghorn and Sean Maitland to take the place of the injured Darcy Graham on the wing.
Edinburgh flanker Luke Crosbie is the least experienced player in the 23 with two caps. He starts at number seven.
Key duo Stuart Hogg and Duhan van der Merwe are both in the XV despite recent fitness concerns.
There is no surprise that Finn Russell is selected at stand-off after forcing his way back to the head of the queue for the number 10 shirt with a couple of impressive displays against New Zealand and Argentina in November following his omission from the initial squad for the Autumn Tests.
Scotland team to face England: 15. Stuart Hogg, 14. Kyle Steyn, 13. Huw Jones, 12. Sione Tuipulotu, 11. Duhan van der Merwe, 10. Finn Russell, 9. Ben White; 1. Pierre Schoeman, 2. George Turner, 3. WP Nel, 4. Richie Gray, 5. Grant Gilchrist, 6. Jamie Ritchie, 7. Luke Crosbie, 8. Matt Fagerson
Replacements: 16. Fraser Brown, 17. Jamie Bhatti, 18. Simon Berghan, 19. Jonny Gray, 20. Jack Dempsey, 21. George Horne, 22. Blair Kinghorn, 23. Chris Harris