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Hogg needs more game time, reveals Townsend

 

By Robert Jones

Gregor Townsend says he had initially planned to change the entire starting XV for Saturday's match against France at Murrayfield, but was persuaded to keep star man Stuart Hogg because the full-back feels he needs more game time after coming off early with cramp last weekend.

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Scotland slumped to a demoralising 32-3 thrashing in the first of their four World Cup warm-up games in the south of France last Saturday, but Townsend has backed his side to bounce back in the rematch.

He has made 14 changes to the starting line-up, meaning the vast majority of players in this weekend's team were not directly responsible for the debacle in Nice, but the head coach insists that the side which will take to the park on Saturday are hurting just as much from the result.

"The plan over the first two weeks was to play the majority of the squad and put two teams out that we believed were strong enough to play Test matches," Townsend said.

"Obviously, that wasn't the case last week, and now it is up to this group of players to rectify that on Saturday.

"It was actually going to be 15 changes at one stage but, seeing as Stuart Hogg left the field early with cramp, we decided he could do with another game. He was looking pretty sharp before he came off and was keen to play.

"We've seen how the players have reacted in training and how they've reacted in their meetings - their focus and edge compared to last week has certainly been present in training."

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