Duncan Taylor starts for Scotland against France in first summer Test

By Andy BurkeBBC Scotland
Duncan Taylor
Duncan Taylor will win his 22nd cap in France
Summer Test: France v Scotland
Venue: Allianz Riviera, Nice Date: Saturday, 17 August Kick-off: 20:00 BST
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland 810MW/DAB/online; live text commentary on the BBC Sport website

Duncan Taylor can be ''a big player'' for Scotland at the World Cup in Japan, says head coach Gregor Townsend.

The 29-year-old Saracens centre will start against France in Nice on Saturday in the first of Scotland's four warm-up Tests.

It will be Taylor's first international action since the summer of 2017, the last two years representing a near constant battle with injuries.

''I was delighted he got through last week's training game,'' Townsend said.

''It would have been a big thing for him having not played for 11 or 12 months to get that full contact and get through it okay.

''He's trained really well for the last two months with us. He's had a season of coming back from that injury. He was training with Saracens at the end of the season and he's ready to go.

''He could be a big player for us over the next few weeks and months, but it's now up to him to grab that opportunity.''

Fellow centre Rory Hutchinson and lock Scott Cummings could make their senior debuts as replacements.

Adam Hastings starts at fly-half with Stuart Hogg at full-back for Gregor Townsend's side in Nice.

Scrum-half Ali Price, centre Huw Jones and wingers Darcy Graham and Byron McGuigan make up the rest of the backs.

Hooker Stuart McInally captains the side, with Jamie Bhatti and Simon Berghan also in the front row. Ben Toolis and Grant Gilchrist make up the second row while John Barclay, Jamie Ritchie and Josh Strauss are in the back row.

It will be former skipper Barclay's first Test since March 2018 after his recovery from a ruptured Achilles.

Saturday's match is the first of two matches with France, with the return at Murrayfield the following Saturday, and the Scots will also play Georgia away and at home before next month's World Cup in Japan commences.

"As a coaching group we're pleased to be able to take a strong squad across to France for this opening Test," Townsend added.

"We've enjoyed seeing the players working hard and becoming closer as a team in our camp. We've been impressed by the quality of play they've delivered in training but fundamentally it's been about preparing to play."

Scotland team: S Hogg, D Graham, H Jones, D Taylor, B McGuigan; A Hastings, A Price; J Bhatti, S McInally, S Berghan, B Toolis, G Gilchrist, J Barclay, J Ritchie, J Strauss.

Replacements: G Turner, G Reid, Z Fagerson, S Cummings, M Fagerson, G Horne, R Hutchinson, B Kinghorn.

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