Weir back at flyhalf for Scotland in Italy test

EDINBURGH (Reuters) - Duncan Weir will make a first start for Scotland at flyhalf since 2016 as one of four changes to the side to take on Italy in their Autumn Nations Cup clash in Florence on Saturday.

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - Scotland v France - BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Britain - March 8, 2020 Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend before the match REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Weir makes a return to the number 10 jersey after injuries ruled our regulars Finn Russell and Adam Hastings, and will earn a 29th cap having also played on the wing and most recently at centre against France in March.

Ali Price will start alongside him at scrumhalf and Sam Johnson at inside centre, with Chris Harris moving to the number 13 jersey as coach Gregor Townsend made three changes to backline that helped Scotland defeat Wales 14-10 in Cardiff in their final Six Nations match on Oct. 31.

There is also one change in the pack with hooker Stuart McInally starting, and packing down alongside props Zander Fagerson and Rory Sutherland.

“While we gained confidence from the win over Wales, we have been working hard to improve in all areas of our game, and we believe that there is a lot more to come from this group of players,” Townsend said in a media release from Scottish Rugby.

“The energy has been great at training and we are seeing real competition for places throughout our squad.”

Townsend also warned his players not to underestimate an Italian side that have lost their six tests since a first round exit at the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

“Italy recorded a famous win against South Africa in this stadium, and we are well aware of the quality they have in their squad that they can raise their game to a similar level this weekend,” he added.

Team: 15-Stuart Hogg (capt), 14-Darcy Graham, 13-Chris Harris, 12-Sam Johnson, 11- Duhan van der Merwe, 10-Duncan Weir, 9-Ali Price, 8-Blade Thomson, 7-Hamish Watson, 6-Jamie Ritchie, 5-Jonny Gray, 4-Scott Cummings, 3-Zander Fagerson, 2-Stuart McInally, 1-Rory Sutherland

Replacements: 16-George Turner, 17-Oli Kebble, 18-WP Nel, 19-Sam Skinner, 20-Nick Haining, 21-Sam Hildago-Clyne Steele, 22-James Lang, 23-Blair Kinghorn.

Writing by Mark Gleeson and Nick Said in Cape Town; Editing by Christian Radnedge