Rugby-Kinghorn gets nod at flyhalf for Scotland v Italy

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - Scotland v Wales - Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland, Britain - February 11, 2023 Scotland's Blair Kinghorn scores their third try Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith

EDINBURGH (Reuters) - Blair Kinghorn will start at flyhalf and Ollie Smith has been selected at fullback in four changes made by Scotland coach Gregor Townsend for their final Six Nations fixture against Italy at Murrayfield on Saturday.

Kinghorn gets the nod ahead of uncapped Ireland-born number 10 Ben Healy as Townsend fills the gap left by the injured Finn Russell. Healy is on the bench.

Smith is in the side for regular fullback Stuart Hogg, who has an ankle problem.

Sam Skinner comes into the second row in the place of the injured Richie Gray, while Hamish Watson returns at flanker in the final change following the 22-7 home loss to Ireland last weekend.

"Blair has been doing well off the bench and Ollie played very well for us against Australia last November and has carried on with that form," Townsend said.

"Sam has been unlucky to miss out with the quality of second rows we have. Along with Hamish, both are experienced players, fresh and motivated for this weekend."

Former Ireland junior international Healy is a player Townsend is eager to see in action.

"He has been outstanding and very good in terms of what we want. He has taken things on board, is a very skilful player and has a very good kicking game. He is knowledgeable about when to attack."

Townsend says they are taking nothing for granted against an Italian side that is winless in this year’s championship, but have played some excellent rugby.

"We are determined to win, but Italy will test us, they are playing outstanding attacking rugby. They will ask us questions and play with passion," Townsend said.

Scotland are out of the running for the Six Nations title, but could finish as high as second in the table.

Scotland team:

15. Ollie Smith (Glasgow Warriors) 2 caps

14. Kyle Steyn (Glasgow Warriors) 9 caps

13. Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors) 35 caps

12. Sione Tuipulotu (Glasgow Warriors) – 15 caps

11. Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh Rugby) 27 caps

10. Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Rugby) 42 caps

9. Ben White (London Irish) 13 caps

1. Pierre Schoeman (Edinburgh Rugby) 20 caps

2. George Turner (Glasgow Warriors) 34 caps

3. Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) 57 caps

4. Sam Skinner (Edinburgh Rugby) 24 caps

5. Jonny Gray (Exeter Chiefs) – 76 caps

6. Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh Rugby) – Captain – 40 caps

7. Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby) 56 caps

8. Jack Dempsey (Glasgow Warriors) 8 caps


16. Ewan Ashman (Sale Sharks) 6 caps

17. Rory Sutherland (Ulster Rugby) 22 caps

18. WP Nel (Edinburgh Rugby) 53 caps

19. Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors) 24 caps

20. Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) 32 caps

21. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) 60 caps

22. Ben Healy (Munster) uncapped

23. Cameron Redpath (Bath Rugby) 4 caps

(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Toby Davis)

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