Scotland opt for experience against England

Vern Cotter (AFP)
Vern Cotter (AFP)

Edinburgh - Scotland coach Vern Cotter has opted for consistency in his side to play England in their Six Nations home opener at Murrayfield on Saturday.

There are just two new faces to the starting XV that took to the field to face Australia in the Rugby World Cup quarter-final, which Scotland narrowly lost.

Matt Scott and John Barclay start in place of the injured Peter Horne and Blair Cowan (who starts on the bench), in the midfield and back row respectively.

Scott will partner Mark Bennett in midfield between a back-three of Stuart Hogg, Sean Maitland and Tommy Seymour, and half-backs Finn Russell and captain Greig Laidlaw.

In the forwards, Barclay joins John Hardie and David Denton in the back row, with second-row brothers Jonny and Richie Gray set to start their 10th Test match together, each packing down behind the all-Edinburgh Rugby front row of Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford and Willem Nel.

"There's a huge amount of excitement and determination among the group to start well, and do well, in this Championship, and show that they have learned from past experiences and developed their game," said Cotter.

"Playing in front of a sold-out BT Murrayfield Stadium is hugely motivating for the players, who are all very proud to wear the jersey as we know. They like working hard for each other in the no-excuse environment that exists in the squad.

"England will look to build their game from set-phase dominance, while we expect them to have developed their attacking play into the wider channels, which can create challenges as well as opportunities.

"We're expecting them to be extremely motivated and physical, and we're looking forward to that challenge.

"Continuity and accuracy will be key for us in this game."

Just four of Scotland's match-day 23 did not feature in the Rugby World Cup, with starting blindside Barclay back in the fold, Duncan Taylor and Stuart McInally returning from the injuries that prevented them taking part, and 20-year-old debutant-in-waiting prop Zander Fagerson.

Scotland team to face England at Murrayfield

15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Tommy Seymour, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw (capt), 8 David Denton, 7 John Hardie, 6 John Barclay, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Willem Nel, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Alasdair Dickinson

Replacements: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 Zander Fagerson, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 Blair Cowan, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Duncan Weir, 23 Duncan Taylor

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