Scotland v Italy: Winners and losers from the team announcements for the final round of the Six Nations

Scotland v Italy winners and losers Credit: Alamy
Scotland v Italy winners and losers Credit: Alamy

The final Six Nations round kicks off with Scotland taking on Italy at Murrayfield on Saturday in what promises to be an entertaining affair.

Now that their teams have been announced, we pick out our winners and losers from the selections made by Gregor Townsend and Kieran Crowley.


Huge chances for Scotland duo Ollie Smith and Blair Kinghorn

Injuries have flung open the door at full-back and fly-half for Scotland, and stepping into the respective jerseys this week will be Smith and Kinghorn.

Smith comes in at 15 for Stuart Hogg, while Kinghorn replaces Finn Russell as he returns to the 10 slot after playing second fiddle to Russell recently.

Kinghorn impressed us last weekend when replacing Hogg, as again, we saw what a talented full-back he is, but it’s back to fly-half duties on Saturday.

Both Kinghorn and Smith have chances to impress in the absence of the senior duo and won’t want to waste it, especially with the World Cup looming.

Likewise for Simone Gesi, Alessandro Fusco and Edoardo Iachizzi

On the opposing side, it promises to be an emotional occasion for Zebre Parma wing Gesi, who is given a first senior Italy cap by head coach Crowley.

There’s also a huge chance for scrum-half Fusco and second-row Iachizzi, who come in for Stephen Varney and Niccolo Cannone for the final run-out.

Fusco especially has impressed off the bench in recent games and will be keen to make his opportunity count. What a chance for these three players.

Ben Healy set for his Scotland debut

The fly-half is set to win his first cap for Scotland this weekend, as his huge decision to move to Edinburgh at the end of the season starts to pay off.

Healy always impresses for Munster when wearing the 10 jersey but felt the opportunity – and international carrot – was too tempting to turn down.

His deal at Edinburgh has therefore fast-tracked his place in the Scotland setup, and on Saturday, he should ice that impending move with a Test cap.


Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg

The senior duo have been mentioned already, and it’s going to be weird not seeing either in a blue jersey, as both have been fixtures for a long period.

Incredibly, it’ll only be the second time since the second game of the 2012 Six Nations that Scotland hasn’t had one of them in their starting line-up.

However, injuries have struck, and it is a blow for Russell as there was finally harmony with Townsend while Hogg was in need of a positive showing.

Italy quartet miss out

Starters last week, Edoardo Padovani, Stephen Varney, Niccolo Cannone and Simone Ferrari are out of Italy’s XV, with just Cannone making the 23.

It’s a sad end to the 2023 Six Nations for Padovani, who only 12 months ago was about to score the most memorable try of his Test career in Cardiff.

The winger joins Varney and Ferrari in being absent at Murrayfield and will hope their efforts against Wales last week have not done lasting damage.

READ MORE: Scotland: Blair Kinghorn starts at 10 with Ollie Smith at 15 against Italy in the absence of Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg

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