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Townsend's no risk approach as he shuffles pack for Georgia tie

 

Safety first: Gregor Townsend has left key men out
Safety first: Gregor Townsend has left key men out

By Andy Newport

Gregor Townsend has wrapped a number of his key men up in cotton wool after leaving them out of Scotland's World Cup send-off with Georgia at Murrayfield tomorrow night.

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Skipper Stuart McInally, Fraser Brown, John Barclay, Greig Laidlaw, Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg have all been spared action as Townsend takes no risks as the clock ticks down to their opener with Ireland in Yokohama on September 22.

However, Jonny Gray returns from a hamstring injury to make his first appearance of the warm-up series, while hooker Grant Stewart and flanker Magnus Bradbury have both been given a consolation slot on the bench after missing out on a place in Townsend's 31-man squad for Japan.

Ryan Wilson will captain Scotland for the first time in McInally's absence as the Dark Blues look to add momentum in the run-up to this month's tournament following back-to-back wins over France and the Lelos.

Townsend said: "We've been together since the middle of June and Friday night is our final chance this year to play in front of our supporters.

"It's another opportunity for players to get valuable game time and build on what was a very good performance last weekend in Georgia.

"We are very aware that Georgia will be much improved after their first hit out of the season and they will know much more about how we play.

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"It's a boost to have Jonny back in the side for the first time since last season and for others, like Tommy, Blade (Thomson) and Duncan Taylor, to have made a return to full fitness, following their recent injuries.

"It's also great to involve two players in our squad this weekend - Grant Stewart and Magnus Bradbury - who just missed out on selection to our group to travel to Japan.

"As with all those that didn't make the 31-man squad, it's important they keep training and playing well in case they get a call up during the tournament."

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