Six Nations 2018: Greig Laidlaw starts as Scotland change six for France

Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw
Laidlaw has scored 582 points for Scotland and will win his 60th cap against France
Six Nations 2018: Scotland v France
Venue: Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh Date: Sunday, 11 February Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Coverage: BBC One, BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio 5 live sports extra. Live text commentary, report and video highlights on the BBC website and app.

Former Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw will make his first Test start in nearly a year after being recalled for Sunday's Six Nations match with France.

The scrum-half, 32, replaces Ali Price, who drops to the bench in one of six changes to the side beaten by Wales.

Centre Peter Horne is preferred to Chris Harris, while Sean Maitland steps in for injured winger Byron McGuigan.

Ryan Wilson, Grant Gilchrist and Simon Berghan replace Cornell du Preez, Ben Toolis and Jon Welsh respectively.

Laidlaw, who featured as a second-half replacement against Wales, has only recently returned from a broken leg.

Scotland's third-highest all-time points scorer missed his country's summer tour while he toured with the British & Irish Lions.

His last Scotland start came in the Six Nations against France on 12 February last year, when he suffered ankle ligament damage in the first half of a 22-16 loss in Paris.

"Greig has a lot of experience having captained the side for the last couple of seasons, and he drives a lot of the standards on and off the field," explained head coach Gregor Townsend.

"Having him back in the group was already a positive. Seeing him play so well and be desperate to be back in the squad and in the team, we should get his experience on the field, which should help others around him.

"We are all aware that last week we didn't perform anything like we are capable of, and even it was the same team going back out, I am sure we would have got a better performance. But these changes we believe will make us stronger."

Edinburgh lock Gilchrist is in for club-mate Toolis, who drops to the bench, alongside Jonny Gray in the second row. Gray's brother Richie is still sidelined by injury.

Number eight Du Preez drops out of the 23 altogether with the return of Glasgow's Wilson, who is named as one of two vice-captains along with Laidlaw.

Prop Berghan returns from suspension and takes over at tight-head from Welsh, who is among the replacements.

The versatile Horne, who scored Scotland's only try in Cardiff as a replacement, takes the number 12 jersey with Huw Jones reverting to outside centre and Harris dropping to the bench.

Alex Dunbar, having recovered from a head knock, sustained a thigh strain in training on Tuesday that also makes him doubtful for the game against England on 24 February, while Duncan Taylor remains sidelined.

Edinburgh full-back Blair Kinghorn will cover the back three and could win his first cap from the bench, with Worcester back-rower Dave Denton also among the replacements on his return to Scotland duty for the first time since the summer tour of Japan in 2016.

"Dave has been playing really well," said Townsend. "He is an experienced player who has worked hard to get back in our squad, and should now get an opportunity off the bench."

Front-row options were limited by the absence of props Zander Fagerson, WP Nel, Darryl Marfo, Allan Dell and Al Dickinson, plus hookers Fraser Brown, Ross Ford and George Turner.

Scotland team to face France: Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Huw Jones, Peter Horne (all Glasgow), Sean Maitland (Saracens), Finn Russell (Glasgow), Greig Laidlaw (Clermont Auvergne); Gordon Reid (London Irish), Stuart McInally, Simon Berghan, Grant Gilchrist (all Edinburgh), Jonny Gray (Glasgow), John Barclay (Scarlets, capt), Hamish Watson (Edinburgh), Ryan Wilson (Glasgow).

Replacements: Scott Lawson (Newcastle), Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow), Jon Welsh (Newcastle), Ben Toolis (Edinburgh), Dave Denton (Worcester), Ali Price (Glasgow), Chris Harris (Newcastle), Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh).

France: Palis; Thomas, Doumayrou, Lamerat, Vakatawa; Beauxis, Machenaud; Poirot, Guirado, Slimani, Itturia, Vahaamahina , Lauret , Tauleigne.

Replacements: Pelissie, Ben Arous, Gomes Sa, Gabrillagues, Serin, Belleau, Fall.


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