Harley and Ford the only changes as Scots prepare for high-flying Italy
Scotland interim head coach Scott Johnson insists handing rookie backrow forward Robert Harley his Murrayfield bow was an easy choice.
The Glasgow youngster is one of two alterations made to the Scotland line-up for this week’s RBS Six Nations encounter with Italy.
The 22-year-old replaces team-mate Alasdair Strokosch, who will visit specialists today to have the extent of an eye-socket injury assessed, while Ross Ford comes in for Dougie Hall after he limped off with a knee knock during Saturday’s Calcutta Cup clash against England at Twickenham.
But Johnson claims the impressive displays of Harley in the RaboDirect Pro12 this season made his inclusion elementary. Also praising Ford, the Australian coach said: “Rob’s form has been superb. He was bordering on selection initially. His form at Glasgow was great.
“He’s got a great work ethic and the right to be angry being a red head. The fact is we need some contact dominance and he provides that. I’m really, really happy to have him back.
“And Fordy coming back in too as an experienced player. Dougie was a bit unfortunate, he got a bit of a bang in the England game. But that gives Ross another chance to come in.
“It’s an opportunity for him.”
SCOTLAND (v Italy, Murrayfield, Saturday, 2.30pm: S Hogg (Glasgow); S Maitland (Glasgow), S Lamont (Glasgow), M Scott (Edinburgh), T Visser (Edinburgh); R Jackson (Glasgow), G Laidlaw (Edinburgh); R Grant (Glasgow), R Ford (Edinburgh), E Murray (Worcester), R Gray (Sale), J Hamilton (Gloucester), R Harley (Glasgow), K Brown (capt, Saracens), J Beattie (Montpellier). Replacements: D Hall (Glasgow) or P MacArthur (Glasgow), M Low (Glasgow), G Cross (Edinburgh), A Kellock (Glasgow), D Denton (Edinburgh), H Pyrgos (Glasgow), D Weir (Glasgow), M Evans (Castres).