Murray return bolsters Scotland
February 24, 2009
Scotland have received a major boost for their vital Six Nations tie with Italy at Murrayfield on Saturday with Northampton prop Euan Murray recovering from injury to take his place in the starting line-up.
Murray missed Scotland's opening losses to Wales and France due to a rib injury, but will pack down alongside Ross Ford and Allan Jacobsen against the robust Italian front-row.
The only other change to the side that lost at the Stade de France is in the second-row, where Glasgow's Alastair Kellock joins Jason White after Jim Hamilton was ruled out with a shoulder injury.
Mike Blair skippers the side from scrum-half while the Evans brothers, Max and Thom, retain their places at outside-centre and wing respectively. Chris Paterson is again named on the bench, with Hugo Southwell retaining the fullback jersey.
"We took a bold approach to selection last week and performed bravely in Paris," said Scotland coach Frank Hadden. "The approach to this game remains the same. We are delighted to recall Euan Murray and bring someone as experienced as Al Kellock in to replace Jim Hamilton.
"We will be facing a better defence and scrummage than we did against France, but there are other aspects of the Italian team that we will be hoping to capitalise on. We are aware that we must continue to show the progress that we have shown during the first two games. We must make every effort to get the fans behind us, right from the start."
Italy coach Nick Mallett has made four changes from the side that lost 38-9 to Ireland for their to Murrayfield.
Andrea Marcato slots in at fullback in place of Andrea Masi, who is serving a three-week ban for a dangerous tackle on Rob Kearney, while Marco Bortolami returns in the second-row in place of Tommaso Reato.
The other change in the forward pack sees Saracens hooker Fabio Ongaro dropped to the bench, with Calvisano's Leonardo Ghiraldini stepping in to the front-row. The other change comes with Gonzalo Garcia starting at inside-centre, with Mirco Bergamasco moving to the wing in place of Luke Mclean, who drops out of the squad.
Overmach Cariparma utility back Giulio Rubini has been named on the bench and will make his international debut if called on to the field.
Mallett has lamented the mistakes that cost the side against England and Ireland, and has called for his team to show a higher level of concentration and execution at Murrayfield.
"The individual mistakes have cost us a lot," said Mallett. "We have given away seven tries in our opening two games due to our mistakes and this cannot be. Against Ireland, we made 75 tackles forward and we only recovered three balls and this is a problem for us.
"Scotland against Wales and France played well even though they lost both games. They have a new playmaker in Phil Godman, who is very fast and very dangerous in the last 10 metres."
Scotland: Hugo Southwell (Edinburgh); Simon Danielli (Ulster), Max Evans (Glasgow Warriors), Graeme Morrison (Glasgow Warriors), Thom Evans (Glasgow Warriors); Phil Godman (Edinburgh), Mike Blair (Edinburgh, capt); Allan Jacobsen (Edinburgh), Ross Ford (Edinburgh), Euan Murray (Northampton Saints), Jason White (Sale Sharks), Alastair Kellock (Glasgow Warriors), Alasdair Strokosch (Gloucester), Simon Taylor (Stade Francais), John Barclay (Glasgow Warriors)
Replacements: Dougie Hall (Glasgow Warriors), Alasdair Dickinson (Gloucester), Kelly Brown (Glasgow Warriors), Scott Gray (Northampton Saints), Chris Cusiter (Perpignan), Chris Paterson (Edinburgh), Nick De Luca (Edinburgh)
Italy: Andrea Marcato (Benetton Treviso); Mirco Bergamasco (Stade Francais), Gonzalo Canale (Clermont-Auvergne), Gonzalo Garcia (Calvisano), Matteo Pratichetti (Calvisano); Luke McLean (Calvisano) Paul Griffen (Calvisano); Salvatore Perugini (Stade Toulousain), Leonardo Ghiraldini (Calvisano), Martin Castrogiovanni (Leicester Tigers), Santiago Dellape (Toulon), Marco Bortolami (Gloucester), Alessandro Zanni (Calvisano), Mauro Bergamasco (Stade Francais), Sergio Parisse (Stade Francais)
Replacements: Fabio Ongaro (Saracens), Carlos Nieto (Gloucester), Carlo Antonio Del Fava (Ulster), Pablo Canavosio (Viadana), Josh Sole (Viadana), Andrea Bacchetti (Rovigo), Giulio Rubini (Cariparma)
Tom Hamilton talks to World Cup-winning captain John Smit about life after rugby, his fears over the South African exodus and the World Cup
The reopening of the openside debate, a dominant wolf-pack and a sublime performance in defeat - Monday Maul looks at the weekend's talking points
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Rugby Championship alongside the best photographs from around the domestic game
Amy Perrett, the Australian referee who whistled the Women's Rugby World Cup final after handling only six Tests, talks to Jamie Lyall