What we learned from the Scotland team to face Italy

Gregor Townsend insists experience will be key in Italy after welcoming back five senior players for Scotland’s final NatWest 6 Nations game in Rome.

Gregor Townsend insists experience will be key in Italy after welcoming back five senior players for Scotland’s final NatWest 6 Nations game in Rome.

Winger Tommy Seymour and centre Nick Grigg start in the backline but it is up front where Townsend has been boosted.

Hooker Fraser Brown, prop WP Nel and lock Tim Swinson are all back in action, allowing Townsend to name his most experienced side since taking over a year ago.

Click here for the complete 2018 NatWest 6 Nations fixture list

Here’s everything we learned from Scotland’s team announcement for the NatWest 6 Nations clash with Italy:

Front-row power

It is no secret that Townsend has missed some key names up front throughout the Championship but two of them are back for Saturday’s encounter.

Brown and Nel bring in 51 caps between them and after returning from injury they both earn their first starts of the Championship against Italy’s powerful forwards.

Nel at his pomp is considered one of the finest props in the game, while Brown dislodged Ross Ford from the team last year – and Townsend knows he needs them firing.

“Playing Italy will be a very tough game – it always has been for any Scotland side,” he said.

“We are ready for the challenge and have an experienced group of players working hard to finish our campaign with a positive performance and result.”

Strength in depth

Jonny and Richie Gray have become one of the best lock combinations in the game but Scotland have been denied the chance to see them in action this year.

A calf injury has hampered Richie’s season but he is finally fit enough to earn a place in the squad and is named among the replacements.

Prop Zander Fagerson is also fit enough for the replacement bench and will likely play a key role in the latter stages in place of WP Nel.

“We’ve been pleased with how the players have responded to last week’s disappointment, with the energy they have brought to training and a determination to improve our performance in our final match in this year’s NatWest 6 Nations,” Townsend added.

Super Seymour back

With 20 tries from 42 caps, Tommy Seymour is a vital part of Scotland’s squad and he makes his return after injury.

The winger comes in for Blair Kinghorn, who made a try-scoring full debut against Ireland last weekend, to re-unite a potent back three which also includes full-back Stuart Hogg and opposite wing Sean Maitland.

Alongside Seymour, Nick Grigg wins just his fourth cap after getting the nod at inside centre.

The Glasgow Warriors ace comes in for fellow Warrior Peter Horne to make his first NatWest 6 Nations start.

Swinson fit and firing

Scotland have made BT Murrayfield a fortress of late but they are chasing their first away win in the Championship in two seasons.

To win away from home is notoriously tough and experienced heads are required – making Tim Swinson’s return very welcome.

The lock, with 35 caps to his name, will provide power with and without the ball as well as an excellent option from the line-out.