Six Nations: Greig Laidlaw on bench for Scotland against Wales

Gregor Townsend and Greig Laidlaw
Greig Laidlaw has played 68 times for Scotland, but has been benched by Gregor Townsend
Six Nations: Scotland v Wales
Venue: Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh Date: Saturday, 9 March Kick-off: 14:15 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One, BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary online.

Captain Greig Laidlaw has been dropped to the bench in favour of Ali Price for Scotland's Six Nations meeting with Wales at Murrayfield on Saturday.

It is one of four changes made by Gregor Townsend for Scotland's penultimate game of the competition.

Racing 92 stand-off Finn Russell makes a return from a head injury, with Peter Horne switching to inside centre.

Wing Darcy Graham also comes in for his first start, while prop WP Nel returns at tight-head for Simon Berghan.

Berghan drops to the bench, while Horne's positional switch sees Sam Johnson drop out of the match-day 23.

With Laidlaw among the replacements, hooker Stuart McInally will captain the side, with Russell and lock Grant Gilchrist his vice-captains.

"Greig, having started in our last six games, is a key member of our squad, although this week we have decided to utilise his leadership and experience off the bench," Townsend explained. "He is driven by a desire to win for his country and he should have an important role to play in the latter stages of the match."

Glasgow Warriors pair Jonny Gray and Tommy Seymour will both win their 50th caps for Scotland, who have won one of their three matches so far while the unbeaten Welsh are aiming for a Grand Slam.

"Getting to 50 caps for your country is a milestone in a player's career and it underlines the consistency and quality both Tommy and Jonny have delivered for Scotland over the years," added Townsend.

'Laidlaw must shoulder some responsibility' - analysis

BBC Scotland's Andy Burke

Gregor Townsend will say the decision to bench his captain in favour of Ali Price is a selection made with this year's Rugby World Cup in mind, and clearly Scotland do need more than one viable option at scrum-half in Japan.

However, if Greig Laidlaw had been playing well and the team had been showing anything like their best stuff in this Six Nations, there would have been no suggestion of dropping the Clermont man. Scotland have been ponderous in attack for much of this championship, especially in that dreadful display in Paris, and Laidlaw must shoulder some of the responsibility.

Only a fool would write the Borders man off, though. He's seen off many challengers to his number nine jersey over the years and will relish the opportunity to prove his doubters wrong once again.

While Price has bad recent memories of facing Wales, he was in the side that beat them at Murrayfield in 2017. This represents a huge opportunity for him to edge to the front of the queue for the scrum-half berth.

Scotland team to face Wales: Kinghorn; Seymour, Grigg, Horne, Graham; Russell, Price; Dell, McInally, Nel, Gilchrist, Gray, Bradbury, Strauss, Ritchie.

Replacements: Brown, Reid, Berghan, Toolis, Watson, Laidlaw, Hastings, McGuigan.

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