Harley ready to rev Scotland
Robert Harley will make his first start at Murrayfield and in the Six Nations Championship, in the Scotland team to play Italy on Saturday.
Robert Harley, the 22-year-old Glasgow Warriors forward, will make his first start at Murrayfield and in the Six Nations Championship, in the Scotland team to play Italy on Saturday.
Harley, who scored the match-winning try against Samoa on debut when he was introduced off the bench on the mid-year tour in the baking South Pacific heat last June, replaces the injured Alasdair Strokosch in the Scotland back row.
Strokosch will be examined by a specialist surgeon at Spire Murrayfield Hospital to determine whether he can play any further part in the championship after the eye socket damage he sustained last Saturday.
A product of Douglas Academy in Milngavie and the West of Scotland club, Harley has played age-grade rugby for Scotland, being a mainstay of the Scotland Under-20 team in 2009 and 2010 and has also represented Scotland A. He has already undertaken captaincy duties with Glasgow Warriors.
The only other change to the starting line-up sees British and Irish Lion Ross Ford return at hooker in place of Dougie Hall, who sustained a knee injury in the Calcutta Cup loss to England last week.
Hall and his Glasgow Warriors club-mate Pat MacArthur are both bracketed for the substitute hooker role with a decision to be made, pending Hall's fitness, later this week.
Scotland interim head coach Scott Johnson said he is confident the young Harley will make the step up.
"I had the pleasure of working with Robert on our tour last June," Johnson said.
"He's big and aggressive and he's been knocking on the door for selection for a wee while. He deserves this chance as a reward for his club form.
"Italy's victory against France in Rome was well-deserved and certainly didn't surprise us. It will be a true Test match this weekend and it would be great to have a big vocal Murrayfield crowd supporting the boys this weekend."
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Sean Lamont, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Greig Laidlaw, 8 Johnnie Beattie, 7 Kelly Brown (captain), 6 Robert Harley, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Ryan Grant.
Replacements: 16 Dougie Hall/Pat MacArthur, 17 Moray Low, 18 Geoff Cross, 19 Alastair Kellock, 20 David Denton, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Duncan Weir, 23 Max Evans
Date: Saturday, February 9
Venue: Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Kick-off: 14.30 (14.30 GMT)
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: John Lacey (Ireland), Leighton Hodges (Wales)
TMO: Marshall Kilgore (Ireland)