Six Nations

Cornell du Preez starts for Scotland v Wales

Cornell du Preez (Getty)
Cornell du Preez (Getty)

Edinburgh - Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has made six changes to his side that started against Australia in November for Saturday’s Six Nations opener against Wales at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.

Glasgow Warriors fullback Stuart Hogg - a late withdrawal from November’s win over the Wallabies - and Newcastle Falcons centre Chris Harris are the two changes to the back division (the latter making his first start), while Gordon Reid, Jon Welsh, Ben Toolis and the South African-born Cornell du Preez come into the starting pack.

Du Preez, a former Southern Kings player, boasts five caps for his adopted country.

Props Welsh and Reid last featured for Scotland in 2015 and last year’s summer tour respectively, while Du Preez and Toolis have been elevated from their replacement status in the Wallabies win.

 “We’ve selected a squad that we believe can start the Six Nations championship with the intensity and speed required to win in Cardiff," Townsend said.

“Last year’s championship highlighted that every game is a fierce competition and that all teams have to play at their very best to win away from home. Delivering that level of performance has been firmly in our thoughts during our preparations this week.

“We’re expecting a really physical game against a very good team. Wales have one of the best defences in the game and an attack that sees forwards passing much more and a structure that enables backs to get on ball.

“I’m sure it’ll be great occasion to kick off this year’s championship and we can’t wait to get started.”

An otherwise unchanged backline sees scrum-half Ali Price start his ninth Test in the past 10 Scotland matches to partner flyhalf Finn Russell at scrumhalf.

Centre Huw Jones makes his first appearance for Scotland at inside centre (where he made nine out of 10 starts for Western Province in last year’s Currie Cup winning season), accommodating incoming outside centre Harris.

Sale Sharks wing Byron McGuigan retains his place alongside Tommy Seymour and Hogg after his late inclusion against Australia yielded two tries and a man of the match award.

Hooker Stuart McInally starts in the front-row between Welsh and Reid, with captain John Barclay and Hamish Watson returning to partner Du Preez in the back-row.

Other notable inclusions on the bench see 2017 British & Irish Loins tourist Greig Laidlaw back in Scotland colours for the first time since last year’s tournament, while replacement hooker Scott Lawson’s last involvement was in 2014.

At the opposite end of the experience spectrum Edinburgh prop Murray McCallum, 21, could make his debut if called up from the bench.

Teams:

Wales

15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Josh Adams, 13 Scott Williams, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Josh Navidi, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4 Cory Hill, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Rob Evans

Substitutes: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Bradley Davies, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Gareth Anscombe, 23 Owen Watkin

Scotland

15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Huw Jones, 11 Byron McGuigan, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ali Price, 8 Cornell du Preez, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 John Barclay (captain), 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Ben Toolis, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Stuart McInally, 1 Gordon Reid

Substitutes: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Jamie Bhatti, 18 Murray McCallum, 19 Grant Gilchrist, 20 Ryan Wilson, 21 Greig Laidlaw, 22 Pete Horne, 23 Sean Maitland

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