Fusaro handed Scotland debut
Fusaro handed Scotland debutSHARE
Flank Chris Fusaro will make his Test debut for Scotland in Saturday's Six Nations and Calcutta Cup clash against England at Murrayfield.
The 24-year-old Glasgow Warrior, a product of Bell Baxter High School and the Howe of Fife club, who has graduated from Scotland Sevens and Scotland A, replaces Kelly Brown and will be Scotland's 1052nd cap.
Fusaro told scottishrugby.org "I'm absolutely delighted. Being the Calcutta Cup, there's no better game to get your first cap. I'm still pinching myself a bit.”
Scotland head coach Scott Johnson has made three changes to the starting XV and three more changes to the bench.
Tommy Seymour will enjoy his first championship experience as he comes in for his injured Glasgow Warriors teammate Sean Maitland on the wing, while Matt Scott, the Edinburgh centre, is promoted from the bench with Duncan Taylor now among the substitutes.
Two other amendments on the bench see the experienced hooker Scott Lawson given the nod over Pat MacArthur and the younger of the Gray siblings, Jonny, preferred to Richie.
Greig Laidlaw resumes the role of captaincy that he has now undertaken on three occasions, twice against South Africa and once against Italy.
Johnson said it had been a "difficult” decision to omit Brown but that Fusaro's skills as a ball-winner on the deck had been key in the selectors' deliberations.
"Fusaro is picked to do a certain role and we believe there's an opportunity for him to do it. England are powerful, they have an edge to their side and are assertive and aggressive. They will probably consider themselves unlucky last weekend but it's not always brute force that wins these games.”
Of the other changes to the starting team Johnson said: "I spoke to Tommy [Seymour] in the summer that he needed a point of difference.
“One of the things that comes to mind is his aerial skills. He possesses natural aerial skills from his time in Ireland. Every time he has gone up in class his skills have transcended.”
Johnson said that Taylor's form made it a tough decision for him to begin on the bench rather than the starting XV but the Saracens' man's ability to cover a number of positions in the backline had been a factor, especially in the aftermath to the injury to Maitland.
Johnson also is excited by the resumption of the centre partnership between Scott and Alex Dunbar which shaped very promisingly during last June’s tour to South Africa.
He added: "We are all looking forward hugely to Saturday's match. You want the rivalry that exists. It's intense and great to be part of.”
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Alex Dunbar, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Sean Lamont, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Greig Laidlaw (captain) 8 David Denton, 7 Chris Fusaro, 6 Ryan Wilson, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Moray Low, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Ryan Grant.
Replacements: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Alasdair Dickinson, 18 Geoff Cross, 19 Jonny Gray, 20 Johnnie Beattie, 21 Chris Cusiter, 22 Duncan Taylor, 23 Max Evans.
Date: Saturday, February 8
Venue: Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Kick-off: 17.00 (17.00 GMT)
Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant referees: George Clancy (Ireland), Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France)