Scotland hand Duncan Weir first start
March 5, 2013
Duncan Weir has been handed the fly-half reins for Saturday's match © Getty Images
Interim boss Scott Johnson has handed fly-half Duncan Weir his first Scotland start ahead of Saturday's clash with Wales at Murrayfield.
Johnson has also opted to reinstate Euan Murray at tight-head while Ryan Wilson could make his debut from the bench with him coming into the squad in place of the injured David Denton. Scotland have secured two wins out of their opening three matches of the Six Nations but despite Ruaridh Jackson starting all three matches for Scotland at No.10, Johnson has opted to draft in Weir.
The young Glasgow fly-half impressed from the bench in their 12-8 victory against Ireland in round three and he has clearly done enough to persuade Johnson to give him a start.
"Selection is tough just now but that's a good thing as we increase competition for places," Johnson explained. "Duncan did well when he came on against Ireland and he got some decent game time for Glasgow at the weekend. He's a talent with a really good work ethic and a thirst to improve, which I like a lot.
"Ruaridh remains a key part of our squad but he knows with Tom Heathcote proving a match-winner for Bath and kicking goals from here, there and everywhere, that he needs to up his game too."
Geoff Cross started against Ireland with Murray out of the squad due to his Christian beliefs, but Johnson has called on the 51-cap tight-head for Saturday's game. Johnson said: "Geoff (Cross) was a standout against Ireland and it's up to Euan, who fronted up big time against Italy, to raise the bar again."
The other change to the matchday squad sees Wilson included on the bench at the expense of the injured Denton. Wilson is yet to play for the Test side but captained Scotland A to their win over the England Saxons in February. And again the coach insists the Glasgow forward has earned his promotion to the full squad.
"We are pleased with Ryan's progress," Johnson said. "This is his reward for good regional form. That's what we want to stand for. We want to reward good performances each and every week. I think he fits into that category. He's been there or thereabouts in the squad.
"The form of the two in front of him we have been quite happy with, so he's had to bide his time. But it's an opportunity for him. Now he's got to transform the form from regional rugby into Test match rugby. We think he is one for the future, but unfortunately for him, the future starts on Saturday."
Johnson will hope that his side record their third win in the championship but he is fully aware of the threats that Wales pose. He said: "Wales will be going for their fifth successive away victory in the championship and that would be a record for them but our focus is on ensuring we win the contact zone, continue to improve and make it three wins on the bounce."
Scotland team: Stuart Hogg, Sean Maitland, Sean Lamont, Matt Scott, Tim Visser, Duncan Weir, Greig Laidlaw; Ryan Grant, Ross Ford, Euan Murray, Richie Gray, Jim Hamilton, Robert Harley, Kelly Brown (captain), Johnnie Beattie
Replacements: Dougie Hall, Moray Low, Geoff Cross, Alastair Kellock, Ryan Wilson, Henry Pyrgos, Ruaridh Jackson, Max Evans
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