Glasgow’s Peter Horne has been drafted in to replace suspended fly-half Finn Russell for Scotland’s Six Nations clash with Italy on Saturday, head coach Vern Cotter announced on Thursday.
Russell lost an appeal earlier this week against a two-match ban for a dangerous tackle on Wales’s Dan Biggar and Horne has been given the nod to replace him over Edinburgh’s Greig Tonks.
Horne will win his seventh cap at Murrayfield and is one of four changes to the team beaten 26-23 by Wales a fortnight ago.
“We’re very wary of Italy and feel that they have improved,” Cotter said in a statement on the Scottish Rugby Union website.
“They are a team that will be targeting this game, so we must be prepared to roll our sleeves up and work very hard to get a result.
“They are a big, physical team — bigger than us — so we will have to be technically strong and well connected as a group to withstand what will be a strong assault on our defensive line.
“We’re very focused on what we do and what we want to achieve, which is to apply pressure that yields points, create line breaks and tackle breaks and develop our speed in this game.”
AFP / Franck Fife
Peter Horne will win his seventh cap at Murrayfield against Italy and is one of four changes to the Scotland team beaten 26-23 by Wales
Horne’s Glasgow club-mates Tommy Seymour and Tim Swinson also come into the side, with Seymour taking over from Tim Visser on the wing and Swinson replacing injured lock Richie Gray.
Prop Euan Murray, who missed the Wales game due to religious reasons, returns in place of Geoff Cross.
Scotland also lost their opening game, to France, and the match against Italy is being billed as a wooden spoon decider.
“We have youth and experience in this group of players and when we look at our performances, we’ve improved from one week to the next, so that’s positive,” Cotter added.
“We’ve stayed focused on the process. The players have been very honest, but we’re enjoying what we’re doing and that’s important.”
Scotland team announced on Thursday to play Italy in Six Nations match at Murrayfield in Edinburgh on Saturday (1430 GMT kick-off):
Stuart Hogg; Tommy Seymour, Mark Bennett, Alex Dunbar, Sean Lamont; Peter Horne, Greig Laidlaw (capt); Johnnie Beattie, Blair Cowan, Rob Harley; Jonny Gray, Tim Swinson; Euan Murray, Ross Ford, Alasdair Dickinson
Replacements: Fraser Brown, Ryan Grant, Geoff Cross, Ben Toolis, Hamish Watson, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Greig Tonks, Matt Scott