Warburton returns for Wales as Weir handed first Six Nations start for Scotland

Scotland have made two changes to their team that faced Ireland plus a further two on the bench in the squad that Scott Johnson has named to face Wales, whilst Rob Howley was made three for Wales, bringing in Paul James and Alun Wyn Jones, whilst Sam Warburton returns to the starting fifteen in place of Justin Tipuric.

Warburton started against Ireland at seven and as captain before being dropped in favour of Justin Tipuric for Wales’ matches against Italy and France, with Ryan Jones taking over the captaincy.

Despite Warburton’s return though, Jones will still retain the captaincy with stand in Head Coach Rob Howley saying: “Ryan has led the team to two wins and deserves to captain the side against Scotland.”

James replaces Gethin Jenkins at loosehead, Jenkins suffered a calf injury against Italy and has not recovered sufficiently to face Scotland. Alun Wyn Jones comes in for Andrew Coombs who has to settle for a place on the bench, despite being one of Wales’ outstanding performers in the Six Nations so far.

The major talking point in the Scottish squad is the inclusion of Duncan Weir at fly half. Weir will be making his first ever Six Nations start after he impressed when he came on for his clubmate Ruaraidh Jackson against Ireland.

Jackson has to settle for a place on the bench where Geoff Cross, who was one of Scotland’s star performers against Ireland, will join him. Cross drops to the bench as Euan Murray is available for selection again after missed out against Ireland as he does not play on Sunday’s.

Ryan Wilson, who captain Scotland A to victory over the England Saxons in February, is also selected on the bench, he comes into the squad for David Denton who damaged his knee ligaments in action for Edinburgh last weekend.

Wilson comes in despite the return to fitness of specialist openside John Barclay, meaning that once again Kelly Brown captains the side from 7 with no specialist seven in the squad.

Speaking about the inclusion of Weir and Cross relegation to the bench, interim Head Coach Scott Johnson said:

“He’s (Weir) a talent with a really good work ethic and a thirst to improve, which I like a lot, Ruaraidh (Jackson) remains a key part of our squad but he knows with Tom Heathcote proving a match-winner for Bath and kicking goals from here, there and everywhere, that he needs to up his game too.”

“Geoff (Cross) was a stand-out against Ireland and it’s up to Euan (Murray), who fronted up big time against Italy, to raise the bar again.”

Scotland:

15. Stuart Hogg 14. Sean Maitland 13. Sean Lamont 12. Matt Scott 11. Tim Visser 10. Duncan Weir 9. Grieg Laidlaw (vc); 1. Ryan Grant (vc) 2. Ross Ford 3. Euan Murray 4. Richie Gray 5. Jim Hamilton 6. Robert Harley 7. Kelly Brown (c) 8. Johnnie Beattie.

Replacements: 16. Dougie Hall 17. Moray Low 18. Geoff Cross 19. Alastair Kellock 20. Ryan Wilson 21. Henry Pyrgos 22. Ruaraidh Jackson 23. Max Evans.

Wales:

15. Leigh Halfpenny 14. Alex Cuthbert 13. Jonathon Davies 12. Jamie Roberts 11. George North 10. Dan Biggar 9. Mike Phillips; 1. Paul James 2. Richard Hibbard 3. Adam Jones 4. Alun Wyn Jones 5. Ian Evans 6. Ryan Jones (c) 7. Sam Warburton 8. Tobey Faletau.

Replacements: 16. Ken Owens 17. Scott Andrew 18. Ryan Bevington 19. Andrew Coombs 20. Justin Tipuric 21. Lloyd Williams 22. James Hook 23. Scott Williams.

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