Townsend makes changes for Italy Test


Gregor Townsend named a much-changed Scotland team to face Italy in their Test in Singapore on Saturday.

Townsend, who took over as coach earlier this year, made nine changes to the starting side which beat Italy 29-0 in their final Six Nations game in March.

He is without three players - Stuart Hogg, Greig Laidlaw and Tommy Seymour - due to the British and Irish Lions' tour of New Zealand.

Seymour is replaced on the wing by Damien Hoyland, while Duncan Taylor takes Hogg's spot at full-back.

WP Nel is set to make a return from a neck injury suffered in January after being named to start at the National Stadium.

"We've really enjoyed our time in Singapore and have worked hard early in the week to get over the travel and get used to the climate," Townsend said.

"We've a great support team who have provided the advice that we needed to get over the travel as quickly as possible and our players are very professional in their application of these protocols, looking after themselves, taking on a lot of water and getting in the pool after sessions so that we're in a good place going into the rest of this week.

"A lot of work was also done before we got here. We had three good weeks in camp before we arrived where we covered general rugby principles, more specific organisation, as well as getting back up to match speed and intensity.

"Italy were developing their game into one that has them playing at pace and you could see that building throughout the Six Nations.

"They moved the ball and played some really good rugby although we expect they will still look to their strengths, which is undoubtedly their physicality that comes through their set-piece, an excellent line-out maul and a number of strong, quality ball carriers in the backline."

Scotland: Duncan Taylor, Damien Hoyland, Matt Scott, Alex Dunbar, Tim Visser, Finn Russell, Ali Price; Allan Dell, Ross Ford, Willem Nel, Tim Swinson, Ben Toolis, John Barclay, John Hardie, Josh Strauss.
Replacements: Fraser Brown, Gordon Reid, Zander Fagerson, Rob Harley, Magnus Bradbury, Ryan Wilson, Henry Pyrgos, Pete Horne.