Injuries see Scotland and Wales make changes as North landmark delayed
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London (AFP) –
Both Scotland coach Gregor Townsend and Wales counterpart Wayne Pivac have been forced into making changes ahead of Saturday's Six Nations international at Murrayfield.
Wing Sean Maitland, centre Cameron Redpath and flanker Jamie Ritchie have all been sidelined following last week's outstanding tournament-opening 11-6 win over reigning champions England.
Edinburgh wing Darcy Graham, Harlequins centre James Lang and Scarlets back-row Blade Thomson have now all come into the side.
Both Maitland (Achilles) and Ritchie (tight hamstring) are expected to be fit for the trip to face France on February 28 but Redpath, who starred on debut against England, is still being assessed.
"With Cam, it's slightly different," said Townsend after announcing his side on Thursday.
"With it being a neck issue, you are just waiting to see how it recovers... but we are hopeful he will have a part to play in the championship later on."
Meanwhile, Wales have recalled Liam Williams, with injury denying George North the chance to win his 100th Welsh cap at Murrayfield.
Williams missed Wales' opening 21-16 win at home to Ireland last weekend when completing a three-game ban for his red card in Scarlets' Pro14 loss to Cardiff Blues but has now taken the place of the injured Hallam Amos on the wing.
North, himself primarily a wing, had been set for a third successive start at outside centre but a scratched eye suffered against Ireland has ruled him out.
North is one of five injured players from that starting XV unavailable to Pivac this week.
Nevertheless, the 28-year-old will still break Australia captain Michael Hooper's record as the youngest player to reach a century of caps for their country if he plays against England on February 27.
- Macleod blow -
In the absence of North's fellow centres Johnny Williams and Jonathan Davies, Pivac has opted for a midfield partnership of Nick Tompkins and Owen Watkin.
New Zealand-born Cardiff Blues centre Willis Halaholo, qualified for Wales through residency and only called into the Six Nations squad on Wednesday, could make his Test debut off the bench.
Flanker Dan Lydiate (knee) and scrum-half Tomos Williams (hamstring) are also missing, with their places taken by Aaron Wainwright and Gareth Davies respectively.
Scarlets flanker Josh Macleod was all set to make his Test debut but ruptured his Achilles tendon in training and could be out for several months.
"We are sad and disappointed for Josh, first and foremost," Pivac told a conference call. "A debut against Scotland would have been something he has dreamt of."
While Scotland were impressive in winning at Twickenham for the first time since 1983, Wales struggled to see off an Ireland side reduced to 14 men for over an hour following Peter O'Mahony's red card.
"They (Scotland) deserved the win on the weekend," said Pivac. "They're defending well and holding onto the ball for long periods. It's going to be a challenge."
Stuart Hogg (capt); Darcy Graham, Chris Harris, James Lang, Duhan van der Merwe; Finn Russell, Ali Price; Matt Fagerson, Hamish Watson, Blade Thomson; Jonny Gray, Scott Cummings; Zander Fagerson, George Turner, Rory Sutherland
Replacements: David Cherry, Oli Kebble, Willem Nel, Richie Gray, Gary Graham, Scott Steele, Jaco van der Walt, Huw Jones
Coach: Gregor Townsend (SCO)
Leigh Halfpenny; Louis Rees-Zammit, Owen Watkin, Nick Tompkins, Liam Williams; Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Taulupe Faletau, Justin Tipuric, Aaron Wainwright; Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Adam Beard; Tomas Francis, Ken Owens, Wyn Jones
Replacements: Elliot Dee, Rhodri Jones, Leon Brown, Will Rowlands, James Botham, Kieran Hardy, Callum Sheedy, Willis Haloholo
Coach: Wayne Pivac (NZL)
© 2021 AFP