6N: Hogg at flyhalf for Scotland vs Italy
EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) — Captain Stuart Hogg will start at flyhalf for Scotland for the first time in the Six Nations match against Italy on Saturday at Murrayfield.
Hogg starts where he finished the loss against Ireland last Sunday as regular No. 10 Finn Russell was still recovering from concussion.
Harlequins scrumhalf Scott Steele was given his first start, a week after finishing the Ireland game as a flanker because Scotland ran out of reserve forwards.
There were seven changes plus two positional moves on Thursday in the starting lineup after losing to Ireland 27-24 ended Scotland’s title hopes.
Both locks had to be replaced after Scott Cummings broke a hand and Jonny Gray hurt a shoulder. Grant Gilchrist and Sam Skinner start.
In the front row, Edinburgh hooker David Cherry makes his first start and tighthead prop Zander Fagerson returns from a four-match suspension for being sent off against Wales more than a month ago.
Huw Jones, appearing as a replacement against Ireland after missing 14 tests, is at outside center instead of Chris Harris, and Darcy Graham is on the right with Sean Maitland shifted to fullback in place of Hogg.
The backup flyhalf is specialist Jaco van der Walt, whose only Scotland cap was a start against Ireland last December in the Autumn Nations Cup playoffs. The South Africa-born Van der Walt qualified on three-year residency last November.
There were four changes to Italy after its latest loss, 48-7 to Wales at home.
Zebre lock David Sisi and Calvisano wing Jacopo Trulla were injured and replaced by Benetton players Federico Ruzza and Edoardo Padovani.
Federico Mori makes his first start after eight appearances from the bench. The Calvisano center comes in for Carlo Canna. Also, Marco Riccioni replaces Giosuè Zilocchi in the front row.
“We want to win on Saturday, closing the tournament in the best way possible and continuing on our path to becoming ever more competitive,” Italy coach Franco Smith said.
Teenage lock Riccardo Favretto was in the reserves and could become the 13th player to make his Italy debut under Smith.
Scotland: Sean Maitland, Darcy Graham, Huw Jones, Sam Johnson, Duhan van der Merwe, Stuart Hogg (captain), Scott Steele; Matt Fagerson, Hamish Watson, Jamie Ritchie, Grant Gilchrist, Sam Skinner, Zander Fagerson, David Cherry, Rory Sutherland. Reserves: George Turner, Jamie Bhatti, Simon Berghan, Alex Craig, Nick Haining, Ali Price, Jaco van der Walt, Chris Harris.
Italy: Edoardo Padovani, Mattia Bellini, Juan Ignacio Brex, Federico Mori, Montanna Ioane, Paolo Garbisi, Stephen Varney; Michele Lamaro, Johan Meyer, Sebastian Negri, Federico Ruzza, Niccolò Cannone, Marco Riccioni, Luca Bigi (captain), Danilo Fischetti. Reserves: Gianmarco Lucchesi, Andrea Lovotti, Giosuè Zilocchi, Riccardo Favretto, Maxime Mbanda, Marcello Violi, Carlo Canna, Marco Zanon.
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