Gray earns Scotland recall

Scotland coach Scott Johnson has recalled Richie Gray, Scott Lawson and Johnnie Beattie to his starting XV to face Italy on Saturday.

Lock Gray was used as a substitute in Scotland's opening defeat at the hands of Ireland and then dropped completely for the Calcutta Cup whitewash by England.

But he returns in place of Tim Swinson as Scotland go in search of their first win of the tournament, in a match that could well decide the wooden spoon, with all three of Johnson's changes coming in the pack.

The others see hooker Ross Ford dropped in favour of Lawson, while David Denton loses his place to Beattie despite being one of the side's few success stories so far.

Gray said: "I'm delighted to be back. I think I speak for all the players in the fact we're looking forward to going out and putting in a performance.

"I was not involved against England but I think the guys were pretty down and they did not manage to show what they can do. So I think this weekend it's really about showing what we can do."


Johnson added: "We've made the changes to the pack with a view to improving the supply and quality of possession.

"Italy are formidable opponents, especially in Rome, and Scotland's matches against them in recent years have been a real arm wrestle.

"We're all hurting at the results of the first two games but the players we've chosen have the chance to do something that can make our supporters proud this weekend.

"I don't want it to be a given that you can play for Scotland. I want people to play for Scotland on achievement and form. Richie has acknowledged that and has worked on a couple of things. He's a great lad and it's nice to have him back."

Johnson also insists Kelly Brown's Scotland career is not over despite missing out on a place in his squad for the second straight game.

He added: "Kelly is there or thereabouts. It was a tough decision for me personally because he's a lad I really like. I respect him enormously.

"I spoke to Kelly last night. He needs to learn to be a bit more aggressive at seven but he will do that. He's not lost to Scottish rugby. We have a good battle for spots and that's what you want."

Scotland: Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Alex Dunbar, Matt Scott, Sean Lamont, Duncan Weir, Greig Laidlaw; Ryan Grant, Scott Lawson, Moray Low, Richie Gray, Jim Hamilton, Ryan Wilson, Chris Fusaro, Johnnie Beattie

Substitutes: Ross Ford, Alasdair Dickinson, Geoff Cross, Tim Swinson, David Denton, Duncan Taylor, Max Evans