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Scotland ring in the changes ahead of the Calcutta Cup

Scotland have announced their team to face England on Saturday with Glasgow’s New Zealand born centre, Sean Maitland, earning his first cap.

Maitland joined Glasgow in October and has played just a handful of games for the side but has impressed with his attitude and turn of speed.

Johnnie Beattie also returns to the side at number 8 having been absent since before the 2011 World Cup. His father, John Beattie, was a member of the last Scotland side to beat England in 1983. The theme of successful fathers runs through this Scotland team, with Greig Laidlaw’s father also playing in that game. Like Greig, he also played at scrum half.

Laidlaw has also been named vice captain of the side, alongside Ryan Grant whose rise since the retirement of Allan Jacobsen just keeps on going. They will support Kelly Brown who captains the side from the openside flank.

It will be a extra special occasion for Euan Murray who wins his 50th cap, an outstanding achievement, particularly given that he does not play on Sunday’s and has therefore missed a number of games.

Murray and Grant are joined in the front row by Dougie Hall, who starts a game ahead of Ross Ford for the first time in six years. It has been a sorry period for Ford who captained the side throughout the 2012 tournament.

Star man Richie Gray starts in the second row alongside Jim Hamilton, while Ally Strokosch is at six, while 2012 sensation David Denton has to make do with a place on the bench.

Laidlaw’s move to scrum half sees Ruaraidh Jackson get the nod ahead of Duncan Weir for the fly half shirt, Matt Scott retains his place in the centres.

Sean Lamont moves from wing to centre to accommodate the flying Maitland, Maitland will be part of the most exciting Scottish back three for a long time, with Stuart Hogg and Tim Visser alongside him.

Maitland has grabbed all the headlines so far though, with much of Scott Johnson’s press conference focused on the Glasgow winger.

The interim head coach, picking his first squad, said:

“Sean Maitland is very proud to be pulling on the Scotland jersey for the first time. His family will be rapt because they raised him in New Zealand always reminding him of his Scottish heritage, getting up in the early hours of the morning to watch both the Five and Six Nations games on the TV.”

“He’s shown he can play footy with the best of them and the impact he’s made since arriving at Glasgow in the autumn has underlined what we’d seen of him playing for the Crusaders in Super Rugby.”

England are expected to release ten players back to their clubs tonight, which ought to give a good indication of the likely Test team which will be announced on Thursday.

Scotland Team:

15. Stuart Hogg, 14. Sean Maitland, 13. Sean Lamont, 12. Matt Scott, 11. Tim Visser, 10. Ruaraidh Jackson, 9. Greig Laidlaw; 1. Ryan Grant, 2. Dougie Hall, 3. Euan Murray, 4. Richie Gray, 5. Jim Hamilton, 6. Alasdair Strokosch, 7. Kelly Brown (c), 8. Johnnie Beattie.

Replacements: 16. Ross Ford, 17. Moray Low, 18. Geoff Cross, 19. Alastair Kellock, 20. David Denton, 21. Henry Pyrgos, 22. Duncan Weir, 23. Max Evans.

By Angus Savage (@AngusSavageXV)

Angus will be giving live Twitter updates throughout the game via @FifteenRugbyXV he will also be tweeting live from the post match press conference – please send in any questions you would like him to ask.

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