Ford and Harley start for Scotland
February 5, 2013
Ross Ford is back at hooker for Scotland © PA Photos
Scotland fell to England 38-18 on Saturday but put in an improved showing compared to their autumn Test form which saw them lose all three of their matches, including a loss to Tonga. And with Italy lying in wait on Saturday, who will be buoyed by their memorable win over France on Sunday, interim coach Scott Johnson has opted to make two changes to the side.
Ross Ford, who was dropped for the match with England, gets the nod at hooker in place of Dougie Hall who is named among the replacements. Hall faces a late fitness test with Scotland monitoring a knee injury he sustained against England so Pat MacArthur is also named among the replacements with one dropping out prior to the weekend's match.
And Johnson has also opted to give Harley the nod. He has just one substitute appearance to his name for Scotland, which came against Samoa on their summer tour, but he is named in the starting XV at the expense of the injured Alasdair Strokosch who is potentially out for the rest of the Six Nations after he suffered a suspected fractured eye socket against England.
"I had the pleasure of working with Robert on our tour last summer," Johnson said of Harley. "He's big and aggressive and he's been knocking on the door for selection for a wee while. He deserves this chance as a reward for his club form.
"Italy's victory against France in Rome was well-deserved and certainly didn't surprise us. It will be a true Test match this weekend and it would be great to have a big vocal Murrayfield crowd supporting the boys this weekend."
There were calls from some for Stuart Hogg to move into the midfield against Italy after he shone against England, but Johnson has kept the Glasgow Warriors man at fullback for Saturday's match.
Scotland: Stuart Hogg, Sean Maitland, Sean Lamont, Matt Scott, Tim Visser, Ruaridh Jackson, Greig Laidlaw; Ryan Grant, Ross Ford, Euan Murray, Richie Gray, Jim Hamilton, Rob Harley, Kelly Brown, Johnnie Beattie
Replacements: Dougie Hall or Pat MacArthur, Moray Low, Geoff Cross, Alastair Kellock, David Denton, Henry Pyrgos, Duncan Weir, Max Evans
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September