Scotland

Gilchrist gets Scottish start

Wed, 13 Mar 2013 12:07
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It's a massive opportunity for me
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Grant Gilchrist, the 22-year-old Edinburgh lock, will win his first cap for Scotland in Saturday's final Six Nations Championship match against France in Paris.

Gilchrist, the six feet eight inches (203 centimetres) product of the Alloa and Stirling County clubs, replaces the injured Richie Gray.

The only other change to the starting line-up sees the experienced Alasdair Strokosch preferred to Rob Harley at blindside flank.

Strokosch had started the championship in the No.6 jersey but injury in the opening match against England at Twickenham sidelined him from Scotland's next three outings.

Gilchrist, a winner of the 2011 John Macphail Scholarship - which saw him play club rugby in New Zealand - was an unused replacement on the bench when Scotland lost to Tonga in Aberdeen in November.

"It's a very special moment," he said in an interview on the Scottish Rugby Union website.

"It's a massive opportunity for me and I just can't wait for Saturday."

Scotland interim head coach Scott Johnson said: "We have made some progress in this championship and it would be ideal to cement that by a winning performance in Paris. But the needle is stuck in the same groove as far as my view on Saturday's Test.

"We've got to get our basics right. We've got to win the contact area, be disciplined in our approach, and get some front-foot ball for our backs. We also want to end the championship on a high.

"I've been impressed with Gilcho. I've spoken of form and future and he fits the bill in the latter category but he's also keen as mustard and we want to look at him in the company of a very good French side.

"We looked at every position in detail after last weekend and we reckoned that Strokosch's experience gave him the nod in the back row.

"We're not reading much at all into where France are in the table. France are wounded right now and we expect them to come out all guns blazing on Saturday.

"But the target for us is to concentrate on our game and aim to be as high up the table as possible come full-time in Paris."

Not considered due to injury: Alasdair Dickinson and Richie Gray (Sale Sharks), Chris Cusiter and Chris Fusaro (both Glasgow Warriors), David Denton and Ross Rennie (both Edinburgh Rugby) and Tom Heathcote (Bath Rugby).

Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Sean Lamont, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Greig Laidlaw, 8 Johnnie Beattie, 7 Kelly Brown, 6 Alasdair Strokosch, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Ryan Grant.
Replacements: 16 Dougie Hall, 17 Moray Low, 18 Geoff Cross, 19 Alastair Kellock, 20 Ryan Wilson, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Max Evans.

Date: Saturday, March 16
Venue: Stade de France, Paris
Kick-off: 21.00 (20.00 GMT)
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: George Clancy (Ireland), Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
TMO: Carlo Damasco (Italy)

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