Blair Kinghorn has been ruled out of Scotland’s first two Guinness Six Nations matches with a knee injury, paving the way for Kyle Rowe to make his first international start at full-back in Saturday’s opener in Wales.
The Toulouse number 15 becomes the second member of Scotland’s first-choice back three to be ruled out of the match in Cardiff and the following weekend’s visit from France, with free-scoring Edinburgh wing Darcy Graham also absent due to quad tightness.
Rowe’s only previous cap came away to Argentina in July 2022 when he came on as a substitute and lasted only 10 minutes before damaging his ACL, resulting in him being sidelined for most of the following year.
The 25-year-old has been in good form for Glasgow this term, scoring seven tries, including three in his last two outings before meeting up with the national team.
Your Scotland team for our @SixNationsRugby opener in Cardiff this Saturday
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) February 1, 2024
Kyle Steyn, who recently returned after three months out, and Duhan van der Merwe will start on the wings.
Recently-appointed co-captain Rory Darge has not recovered from a knee injury in time to feature so stand-off Finn Russell will skipper the side.
Previous skipper Jamie Ritchie, who lost the role last month, has been named as one of this weekend’s vice-captains and will start in the back-row alongside Matt Fagerson and Luke Crosbie, with Jack Dempsey – the first-choice number eight for most of last year – on the bench.
Ben White, Scotland’s preferred scrum-half for the majority of last year, is restored to the number-nine jersey after Ali Price took his place in the starting XV for the last two matches of the World Cup against Romania and Ireland.
Glasgow lock Scott Cummings starts in place of his suspended Edinburgh counterpart Grant Gilchrist.
Props Elliot Millar-Mills and Alec Hepburn – who was capped six times by England in 2018 – are both in line to make their Scotland debuts off the bench.
However, there is no place in the 23 for in-form Saracens back-rower Andy Christie who had been touted as a potential starter.
The Scots are eyeing a first victory in Cardiff for 22 years.