Six Nations: Finn Russell fit for Scotland’s clash with France

Five changes for Les Bleus as they bid to take Six Nations title away from Wales on Friday

Finn Russell has returned from concussion in time for Scotland's Six Nations trip to France on Friday night.

The livewire outhalf steps in to lead Scotland’s backline, with boss Gregor Townsend’s side shorn of a number of English-based stars.

Ali Price will start at nine, with Chris Harris into the centres, while George Turner starts at hooker.

Scotland were only allowed to select five English-based players due to a deal with Premiership bosses as this delayed match now sits outside the Test window.

The likes of Saracens wing Sean Maitland have missed out, but head coach Townsend is determined not to dwell on the absentees.

France will be gunning for the Six Nations title having denied Wales a Grand Slam last weekend, but Scotland could finish second themselves.

“The match against France provides us with an opportunity to finish the Six Nations in our highest position in its history,” said Townsend.

“This is a great opportunity for us to take on France, at home in Paris, as they also look to end the championship on a high.

“Both teams have needed to manage a short six-day turnaround and we have used this week to regroup and focus on putting in our best performance of the competition so far, which we will need to deliver if we are to leave Paris with a victory.

“As a group we have faced several challenges throughout this Six Nations, it has brought us closer together, and I know the players are motivated and looking forward to representing their country again on Friday night.”

Meanwhile France coach Fabien Galthie will ring the changes and turn on the power against Scotland, with his team bidding for their first title since 2010.

Galthie has made five changes to the side that beat Wales last weekend, with Arthur Vincent coming in at centre and Gael Fickou moving to the wing, consigning Teddy Thomas to the bench.

“We needed more density on the flanks,” Galthie told a news conference to explain Fickou’s repositioning at the expense of Thomas.

“Scotland have very athletic players on the wings.”

Romain Ntamack, making his way back following an injury layoff, replaces the injured Matthieu Jalibert at outhalf.

Scrumhalf Antoine Dupont’s usual partner at Toulouse, where both play their club rugby, Ntamack came on from the bench in Saturday’s dramatic 32-30 victory against Wales.

“He was very solid in a weird game. He led the team, took the good decisions and I’m sure he’s going to do just that again,” said Galthie.

Locks Bernard Le Roux and Swan Rebbadj take the places of Romain Taofifenua and suspended Paul Willemse, and flanker Anthony Jelonch’s power game earns him a start with Dylan Cretin on the bench.

France, who beat Wales in stoppage time, must beat Scotland by 21 points and secure a bonus point to win the title.

Les Bleus currently lie third in the table with 15 points, behind Wales (20) and Ireland (15). Scotland are fourth on 11 points, with a chance of finishing second, which would be their best result since the addition of Italy turned the Five Nations into Six in 2000.

France: Brice Dulin; Damian Penaud, Virimi Vakatawa, Arthur Vincent, Gael Fickou; Romain Ntamack, Antoine Dupont; Cyril Baille, Julien Marchand, Mohamed Haouas; Bernard Le Roux, Swan Rebbadj; Anthony Jelonch, Charles Ollivon (capt), Gregory Alldritt. Replacements: Camille Chat, Jean-Baptiste Gros, Uini Atonio, Romain Taofifenua, Dylan Cretin, Baptiste Serin, Anthony Bouthier, Teddy Thomas.

Scotland: Stuart Hogg (capt); Darcy Graham, Chris Harris, Sam Johnson, Duhan Van Der Merwe; Finn Russell, Ali Price; Rory Sutherland, George Turner, Zander Fagerson; Sam Skinner, Grant Gilchrist; Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Matt Fagerson. Replacements: David Cherry, Oli Kebble, Simon Berghan, Alex Craig, Nick Haining, Scott Steele, A Hastings, Huw Jones.

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