Scotland start: Blair Kinghorn (C) will line up at fly-half against Italy at Murrayfield
London (AFP) - Blair Kinghorn will replace the injured Finn Russell at fly-half for Scotland’s Six Nations finale at home to Italy on Saturday.
Edinburgh back Kinghorn appeared to have become Gregor Townsend’s favoured option in the No. 10 shirt last year, playing in the role on six consecutive occasions.
The Scotland coach recalled Russell midway through the northern hemisphere’s autumn programme, with the Racing 92 stand-off producing superb displays.
Russell was instrumental in Scotland’s opening two wins of the Six Nations, against England and Wales, but has been ruled out of this weekend’s match with a knee injury following the defeat by Ireland last Saturday.
Scotland will also be without Stuart Hogg against Italy after the veteran full-back suffered ankle damage in a 22-7 loss to Grand Slam-chasing Ireland at Murrayfield.
There had been speculation that 26-year-old Kinghorn, a replacement full-back in recent matches, would start at No. 15 against Italy.
But Townsend has opted to deploy him at stand-off, with Ollie Smith coming in for Hogg at full-back.
Up front, Townsend has had to make another change to his XV, with Edinburgh lock Sam Skinner replacing Richie Gray, who suffered rib damage against Ireland.
Townsend has brought in Edinburgh flanker Hamish Watson at the expense of Matt Fagerson, now among the replacements, in the only unforced alteration to the run-on side.
Uncapped Munster fly-half Ben Healy could make his Scotland debut off the bench.
Victory on Saturday would likely seal third place in the Six Nations for Scotland after their opening two wins were followed by losses to France and Ireland.
Italy, yet to win this year, are due to name their side later on Thursday.
Ollie Smith; Kyle Steyn, Huw Jones, Sione Tuipulotu, Duhan van der Merwe; Blair Kinghorn, Ben White; Jack Dempsey, Hamish Watson, Jamie Ritchie (capt); Jonny Gray, Sam Skinner; Zander Fagerson, George Turner, Pierre Schoeman
Replacements: Ewan Ashman, Rory Sutherland, WP Nel, Scott Cummings, Matt Fagerson, Ali Price, Ben Healy, Cameron Redpath
Coach: Gregor Townsend (SCO)