Horne answers Scotland’s flyhalf crisis in Six Nations
EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) — Scotland turned to Peter Horne to answer its crisis at flyhalf for a Six Nations match against Italy on Saturday that could determine which team ends the competition in last place.
Scotland coach Vern Cotter is down to his fourth-choice No. 10 after Finn Russell failed this week to overturn a ban for a dangerous tackle against Wales in Round 2. Duncan Weir and Ruaridh Jackson are missing the entire Six Nations because of injury.
Horne, who will make his seventh test appearance, was one of four changes to the lineup that started the loss to Wales, which left Scotland without a point — like Italy.
Tim Swinson came in for the injured Richie Gray at lock in the other enforced change, and prop Euan Murray will start ahead of Geoff Cross after missing the Wales game because he doesn’t play on Sundays because of religious reasons.
Tommy Seymour has recovered from a hip injury and was preferred on the wing to Tim Visser, who was dropped from the squad. There were four changes among the replacements — including call-ups for uncapped players Ben Toolis and Hamish Watson — when Cotter announced his team Thursday.
“We’re very wary of Italy and feel that they have improved,” Cotter said of a team that has been beaten by Ireland and England this Six Nations. “They are a team that will be targeting this game, so we must be prepared to roll our sleeves up and work very hard to get a result.”
Italy or Scotland have finished last in the standings in seven of the last eight editions of the Six Nations.
Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Mark Bennett, Alex Dunbar, Sean Lamont, Peter Horne, Greig Laidlaw (captain); Johnnie Beattie, Blair Cowan, Rob Harley, Jonny Gray, Tim Swinson, Euan Murray, Ross Ford, Alasdair Dickinson. Reserves: Fraser Brown, Ryan Grant, Geoff Cross, Ben Toolis, Hamish Watson, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Greig Tonks, Matt Scott.