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Richie Gray returns to Scotland starting XV for wooden spoon decider


Gray: Poised for move to France

Gray: Poised for move to France

Gray: Poised for move to France

Scotland lock Richie Gray has been recalled to the Dark Blues' line-up for Saturday's potential RBS 6 nations wooden spoon decider against Italy.

The British and Irish Lion was only used as a second-half substitute in the Championship opener against Ireland before head coach Scott Johnson dropped him completely for the humiliating 20-0 defeat to England.

But the Castres forward has been brought back for the Rome clash with the Azzurri - who like Scotland have lost both their first two games - as he replaces Tim Swinson.

Johnson has made two other changes, with out-of-form hooker Ross Ford dropped in favour of Scott Lawson, while David Denton loses his place to Johnnie Beattie despite being the only Scot to have impressed so far.

Gray said: "I'm delighted to be back. I think I speak for all the players in the fact we're looking forward to going out and putting in a performance.

"I was not involved against England but I think the guys were pretty down and they did not manage to show what they can do. So I think this weekend it's really about showing what we can do."

Scotland spent just three per cent of the match against England in their opponents' 22 as their backs were starved of quality ball and that is reflected in under-fire Johnson's decision to hand the same seven men another chance against the Italians.

There is still no place for former skipper Kelly Brown - who has been allowed to return to his club Saracens ahead of their Aviva Premiership clash with Exeter this weekend - and scrum-half Greig Laidlaw will lead out the side in his absence.

Johnson admitted his side's pride had been wounded by the dismal defeats to Ireland and England.

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He said: "We've made the changes to the pack with a view to improving the supply and quality of possession.

"Italy are formidable opponents, especially in Rome, and Scotland's matches against them in recent years have been a real arm wrestle.

"We're all hurting at the results of the first two games but the players we've chosen have the chance to do something that can make our supporters proud this weekend."

Scotland team to face Italy: (15-9) 15 Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors), Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors), Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors), Matt Scott (Edinburgh Rugby), Sean Lamont (Glasgow Warriors), Duncan Weir (Glasgow Warriors), Greig Laidlaw (Edinburgh Rugby) (CAPTAIN); (1-8) Ryan Grant (Glasgow Warriors), Scott Lawson (Newcastle Falcons), Moray Low (Glasgow Warriors), Richie Gray (Castres), Jim Hamilton (Montpellier), Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors), Chris Fusaro (Glasgow Warriors), Johnnie Beattie (Montpellier)

Substitutes: (16-23) Ross Ford (Edinburgh Rugby), Alasdair Dickinson (Edinburgh Rugby), Geoff Cross (Edinburgh Rugby), Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors),  David Denton (Edinburgh Rugby), Chris Cusiter (Glasgow Warriors),  Duncan Taylor (Saracens), Max Evans (Castres).

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