SA-Born Du Preez gets a Scotland start
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: South African-born No.8 Cornell Du Preez has been named in the starting XV for Scotland's opening Six Nations clash against Wales on Saturday.
The former Kings No.8 Du Preez, along with Ben Toolis have been elevated from their replacement status in the Wallabies win, is set to accumulate his eight Test cap, while former Stormers centre Huw Jones makes his first appearance at inside-centre for Scotland.
The other changes see Glasgow Warriors fullback Stuart Hogg – a late withdrawal from November’s win over the Wallabies – and Newcastle Falcons centre Chris Harris [right] are the two changes to the back division, while Gordon Reid, Jon Welsh and Ben Toolis come into the starting pack.
Props Welsh and Reid last featured for Scotland in 2015 and last year’s summer tour respectively.
Scotland Head Coach Gregor Townsend, said: "We’ve selected a squad that we believe can start the Six Nations championship with the intensity and speed required to win in Cardiff.
"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 scrumhalf Ali Price start his ninth Test in the past ten Scotland matches to partner stand-off Finn Russell at scrumhalf, while Jones switch to inside centre accommodates incoming outside-centre Harris.
Sale Sharks wing Byron McGuigan [right] 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 Lions 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 Rugby prop Murray McCallum (21) could make his debut if called up from the bench.
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.
Replacements: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Jamie Bhatti, 18 Murray McCallum, 19 Grant Gilchrist, 20 Ryan Wilson, 21 Greig Laidlaw, 22 Pete Horne, 23 Sean Maitland.
Date: Saturday, February 3
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Kick-off: 14.15 (14.15 GMT)
Referee: Pascal Gaüzère (France)
Assistant referees: Romain Poite (France), Matthew Carley (England)
TMO: David Grashoff (England)