Six Nations 2018: Chris Harris and Ali Price start for Scotland against Wales

Chris Harris in training with Scotland
Chris Harris has played 21 minutes for Scotland as a replacement
2018 Six Nations: Wales v Scotland
Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff Date: 3 February Kick-off: 14:15 GMT
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, Red Button, Connected TVs, BBC Sport website and mobile app. Listen on BBC Radio Wales, Radio Scotland, BBC Radio 5 live, 5 live sports extra, BBC Sport website and app. Live text coverage on BBC Sport website and app.

Newcastle Falcons' Chris Harris will make his first start for Scotland after being named at outside centre for Saturday's Six Nations opener in Wales.

Cornell du Preez starts at number eight, with Ali Price named ahead of fit-again Greig Laidlaw at scrum-half.

Coach Gregor Townsend has made six changes from the side that faced Australia in November.

Stuart Hogg starts at full-back, while Gordon Reid, Jon Welsh, Ben Toolis and Du Preez come into the starting pack.

Prop Welsh last featured for Scotland in 2015, while Newcastle team-mate Harris made his debut as a replacement for the final 21 minutes of November's 44-38 win over Samoa.

Harris has featured in each of Newcastle's 13 Premiership fixtures this season, starting 12. He tops the league charts for offloads completed, has beaten 25 defenders and averages just under 10 tackles a game, with a tackle completion rate just shy of 90%.

"We've been really impressed with him," said Townsend. "He's been very consistent.

"Defensively he's stood out, and a massive part of winning games, being successful, is having a strong defence, and he's shown that this year.

"We've been really impressed with him in the last two or three weeks before coming to camp, and with the unavailability of Alex Dunbar and Duncan Taylor, he gets an opportunity."

To accommodate Harris, Glasgow's Huw Jones switches from outside centre - where he has won his 11 caps to date - to inside centre, where he made nine out of 10 starts for Western Province in last year's Currie Cup-winning season.

Glasgow's Price starts for the ninth time in 10 Scotland games, while former captain Laidlaw returns to the match-day squad for the first time since last year's Six Nations, having returned from a broken fibula in the past fortnight - with one brief replacement appearance and one start for Clermont.

Greig Laidlaw trains with Scotland
Laidlaw has not played for Scotland since being injured against France in last year's Six Nations

"It was always going to be very tight for Greig," Townsend said. "He's done very well to be in our squad, and to come back from injury a week ago,

"To play 80 minutes at the weekend showed to us that he was capable of coming back into our squad, which was good news for Greig and good news for us."

Scotland are without six frontline props and three hookers, but the experienced Reid and Welsh join the in-form Stuart McInally in the front row.

Replacement hooker Scott Lawson, 36, has not played for Scotland since 2014, while 21-year-old Edinburgh prop Murray McCallum could make his debut from the bench.

"We believe we've got a really strong scrummaging unit, with two players that can scrum, and also add impact off the bench in Jamie Bhatti and Murray McCallum in the loose in the second half."

Edinburgh prop Murray McCallum
Murray McCallum is a specialist loose-head who has been filling in at tight-head for Edinburgh

Townsend said he has chosen a team designed to provide "the intensity and speed required to win in Cardiff".

"Last year's championship highlighted that every game is a fierce competition and that all teams have to play at their very best to win away from home," he added.

"Delivering that level of performance has been firmly in our thoughts during our preparations this week.

"We're expecting a really physical game against a very good team.

"Wales have one of the best defences in the game and an attack that sees forwards passing much more and a structure that enables backs to get on the ball."

Scotland starting XV

Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors); Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors), Chris Harris (Newcastle Falcons), Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors), Byron McGuigan (Sale Sharks); Finn Russell (Glasgow Warriors), Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors); Gordon Reid (London Irish), Stuart McInally (Edinburgh), Jon Welsh (Newcastle Falcons), Ben Toolis (Edinburgh), Jonny Gray, John Barclay (Scarlets, captain), Hamish Watson (Edinburgh), Cornell du Preez (Edinburgh).

Replacements: Scott Lawson (Newcastle Falcons), Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors), Murray McCallum (Edinburgh), Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh), Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors), Greig Laidlaw (Clermont Auvergne), Pete Horne (Glasgow Warriors), Sean Maitland (Saracens).


Join the conversation

These comments are now closed.