Hogg starts for Scotland
By Mark Stevens
Exeter Chiefs' newcomer Stuart Hogg will make his return to Scotland colours when they take on France in their opening World Cup warm-up match this weekend.
The Scots travel to the Allianz Riviera in Nice on Saturday (8pm) to face Les Bleus and full-back Hogg is set for a first international appearance since leaving the field with a shoulder injury just 17 minutes into their second match of the 2019 Guinness Six Nations against Ireland in February.
That injury ruled the 27-year-old out of the remainder of the Championship but he dons the No.15 jersey once more to complete a back-three that also includes former Chief Byron McGuigan and Darcy Graham.
Hooker Stuart McInally – who skippered Scotland as they retained the Calcutta Cup with a dramatic 38-38 draw at Twickenham in the final game of this year’s Championship – is named as captain and will line up in between Simon Berghan and Jamie Bhatti in the front row.
Fly-half Adam Hastings will make his first start since the 2018 Autumn Internationals, just outside scrum-half Ali Price, while Duncan Taylor will make his first Scotland start in two years at centre.
Glasgow Warriors lock Scott Cummings and Northampton Saints centre Rory Hutchinson will make their Test debuts if called upon from the bench on Saturday evening in Nice and coach Gregor Townsend is intrigued to see how his troops fare against a Guinness Six Nations rival.
“As a coaching group we’re pleased to be able to take a strong squad across to France for this opening Test,” he said. “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. We’re now very much looking forward to seeing our men perform in these Test matches.”
Scotland host France in the return fixture next Saturday at BT Murrayfield, before away and home Tests against Georgia will complete their World Cup preparations.
Scotland team to play France
15. Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs)
14. Darcy Graham (Edinburgh)
13. Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors)
12. Duncan Taylor (Saracens)
11. Byron McGuigan (Sale Sharks)
10. Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors)
9. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors)
1. Jamie Bhatti (Edinburgh)
2. Stuart McInally (Edinburgh, capt)
3. Simon Berghan (Edinburgh)
4. Ben Toolis (Edinburgh)
5. Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh)
6. John Barclay (Edinburgh)
7. Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh)
8. Josh Strauss (Blue Bulls)
16. George Turner (Glasgow Warriors)
17. Gordon Reid (Ayrshire Bulls)
18. Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors)
19. Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors)
20. Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors)
21. George Horne (Glasgow Warriors)
22. Rory Hutchinson (Northampton Saints)
23. Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh)