Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Strokosch ruled out for Scotland

Alasdair Strokosch sustained an eye injury against England

Scotland's interim head coach Scott Johnson has been forced to make two changes to his side for this weekend's RBS 6 Nations clash with Italy.

Alasdair Strokosch and Dougie Hall both picked up injuries in the Calcutta Cup defeat to England last Saturday.

Back-row forward Strokosch - who will see specialists in Edinburgh to examine the extent of an eye socket injury - is replaced by Robert Harley, while Ross Ford comes in at hooker in place of Hall (knee injury). However, Hall could yet feature and has been pencilled in as replacement number two with understudy Pat MacArthur, with a decision to come later this week.

Johnson said: "I had the pleasure of working with Robert on our tour last summer.

"He's big and aggressive and he's been knocking on the door for selection for a while. He deserves this chance as a reward for his club form.

"Italy's victory over France in Rome was well deserved and certainly didn't surprise us. It will be a true Test match this weekend and it would be great to have a big vocal Murrayfield crowd supporting the boys this weekend."

Glasgow forward Harley, 22, makes his first start at Murrayfield, having scored the winning try against Samoa on the Scots' tour of the South Pacific last summer.

Kelly Brown will retain the captaincy for the visit of the Azzurri after Johnson - who has declined to confirm if he will continue in the role for the entire competition - gave him the nod once more.

Scotland team: S Hogg (Glasgow Warriors); S Maitland (Glasgow Warriors), S Lamont (Glasgow Warriors), M Scott (Edinburgh Rugby) T Visser (Edinburgh Rugby); R Jackson (Glasgow Warriors), G Laidlaw (Edinburgh Rugby); R Grant (Glasgow Warriors), R Ford (Edinburgh Rugby), E Murray (Worcester Warriors), R Gray (Sale Sharks), J Hamilton (Gloucester), R Harley (Glasgow Warriors), K Brown (captain, Saracens), J Beattie (Montpellier).

Replacements: D Hall (Glasgow Warriors) or Pat MacArthur (Glasgow Warriors), M Low (Glasgow Warriors), G Cross (Edinburgh Rugby), A Kellock (Glasgow Warriors), D Denton (Edinburgh Rugby), H Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors), D Weir (Glasgow Warriors), M Evans (Castres).

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