Rugby-Russell back for Scotland against England as Redpath debuts

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EDINBURGH (Reuters) - Finn Russell returns at flyhalf and Cameron Redpath will make his debut at centre for Scotland in the lineup named by coach Gregor Townsend on Thursday to face England in their Six Nations opener at Twickenham on Saturday.

Russell, whose mercurial performances and flamboyant skills make him one of world rugby’s most exciting players, missed the Autumn Nations Cup through injury and sat out most of last year’s Six Nations after a spat with the coach that has since been settled.

The 21-year-old Redpath, who played for England at under-20 level and plays his club rugby for Bath, elected last month to follow in the footsteps of his father Bryan and play test rugby for Scotland.

The decision was a blow to England with the centre seen as a promising prospect and Townsend was brimming with enthusiasm on Thursday as he explained his selection of the inexperienced back at a video news conference.

“He’s good enough to play, I’ve been really impressed with him, especially in games where he is up against it. His strength in defence is going to be vital for us but he also has skills in attack. It’s the right time for him,” said the coach.

Townsend made five changes to the side that lost 31-16 to Ireland in Dublin in their last outing in December at the end of the Autumn Nations Cup.

Sean Maitland, axed from the squad last October because of a COVID-19 protocol breach, returns along with influential loose forward Hamish Watson. Hooker George Turner, who has not played in the Six Nations previously, was the other change while Edinburgh hooker David Cherry will make his debut if called up off the bench.

“We learned a lot about ourselves and where the game is going during our autumn campaign, and we aim to build on this base during the next seven weeks. We are set for a huge challenge against England as we will be facing one of the best teams in the world," added Townsend.

Scotland team to face England:

15. Stuart Hogg (C) (Exeter Chiefs, 80 caps)

14. Sean Maitland (Saracens, 50 caps)

13. Chris Harris (Gloucester, 23 caps)

12. Cameron Redpath (Bath, uncapped)

11. Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh, 5 caps)

10. Finn Russell (Racing 92, 51 caps)

9. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors, 37 caps)

1. Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh, 11 caps)

2. George Turner (Glasgow Warriors, 12 caps)

3. Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors, 34 caps)

4. Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors, 17 caps

5. Jonny Gray (Exeter Chiefs, 61 caps)

6. Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh, 23 caps)

7. Hamish Watson (Edinburgh, 36 caps)

8. Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors, 9 caps)

Replacements:

16. David Cherry (Edinburgh, 0 caps)

17. Oli Kebble (Glasgow Warriors, 5 caps)

18. W.P Nel (Edinburgh, 40 caps)

19. Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors, 65 caps)

20. Gary Graham (Newcastle Falcons, 2 caps)

21. Scott Steele (Harlequins, 1 cap)

22. Jaco van der Walt (Edinburgh, 1 cap)

23. Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors, 26 caps)

(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Toby Davis)