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Townsend is sure Harris will shine for Scots

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend
Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend

By Robert Jones

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend says Chris Harris has earned his place in the starting line-up of their NatWest Six Nations opener in Cardiff.

Harris will make his first start against Wales on Saturday after Townsend named the Newcastle man at outside centre, where he will partner Huw Jones.

Former captain Greig Laidlaw has been named on the bench, with Ali Price preferred at scrum-half, while Jon Welsh and Gordon Reid are recalled following a number of injuries.

Stuart Hogg returns at full-back after missing the win over Australia due to a hip injury.

Harris made his only appearance for the Dark Blues off the bench against Samoa, and Townsend is sure he can play a big role in the absence of Alex Dunbar, who has concussion.

"We've been really impressed with him overall," he said. "He's been very consistent.

"Defensively he's stood out - and a massive part of winning games, being successful, is having a strong defence.

"We've been really impressed with him in the last two or three weeks before camp, and with the unavailability of Alex Dunbar and Duncan Taylor, he gets an opportunity to start for us at 13."

Scotland team to play Wales at Cardiff: Stuart Hogg; Tommy Seymour (both Glasgow), Chris Harris (Newcastle), Huw Jones (Glasgow), Byron McGuigan (Sale); Finn Russell, Ali Price (both Glasgow); Gordon Reid (London Irish), Stuart McInally (Edinburgh), Jon Welsh (Newcastle); Ben Toolis (Edinburgh), Jonny Gray (Glasgow); John Barclay (Scarlets), Hamish Watson, Cornell du Preez (both Edinburgh).

Replacements: Scott Lawson (Newcastle), Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow), Murray McCallum, Grant Gilchrist (both Edinburgh), Ryan Wilson (Glasgow), Greig Laidlaw (Clermont Auvergne), Pete Horne (Glasgow), Sean Maitland (Saracens).

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