Barclay named captain as Scotland change five for Wales

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John Barclay is to captain Scotland in the absence of the injured Greig Laidlaw as Vern Cotter makes five changes to his starting XV to face Wales in the Six Nations.

Scrum-half Laidlaw injured his ankle in Scotland's bruising 24-16 defeat to France last time out and was consequently ruled out of the rest of the tournament.

Back-rower Barclay - who himself has recovered from shoulder and head injuries sustained against Les Bleus - will lead out the team in Laidlaw's absence in what will be his 58th Scotland appearance, and Cotter says the 30-year-old is well worthy of the honour.

"John has played a vital role in our leadership group and has led by example throughout this and previous campaigns," Cotter said of Barclay, who will captain Scotland for the second time.

"It was disappointing to lose Greig, however we continue to develop a system of shared leadership in this squad, which has supported this transition.

"It'll be a proud moment for John and one which he thorough deserves."

Alistair Price takes Laidlaw's place at scrum-half for his first Scotland start and will partner Glasgow Warriors team-mate Finn Russell in the half-backs.

Gordon Reid is preferred in the front row to Allan Dell for his first start of the tournament, while John Hardie also makes his maiden start of the 2017 Six Nations in the back row.

Josh Strauss will miss the remaining games with a kidney injury so Ryan Wilson takes his place at number eight, and Tim Visser starts on the wing in place of the injured Sean Maitland.

 

Scotland starting XV: Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Huw Jones, Alex Dunbar, Tim Visser, Finn Russell, Alistair Price ; Gordon Reid, Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson, Richie Gray, Jonny Gray, John Barclay (captain), John Hardie, Ryan Wilson.

Replacements: Ross Ford, Allan Dell, Simon Berghan, Tim Swinson, Hamish Watson, Henry Pyrgos, Duncan Weir, Mark Bennett