Cotter remains with consistency for England

Vern Cotter has kept most of his RWC Qtr final team to play England

Scotland head coach Vern Cotter pulled no big surprises in naming his team to play England in the Six Nations opener at Murrayfield on Saturday and instead opted for consistency.

Cotter has made just two changes to the side that lost to Australia in the Rugby World Cup quarter final which was their last outing.

Peter Horne is injured so Matt Scott starts and Blair Cowan drops to the bench and is replaced by John Barclay.

Scott will partner Mark Bennett in midfield between a back-three of Stuart Hogg, Sean Maitland and Tommy Seymour, and half-backs Finn Russell and captain Greig Laidlaw.

In the forwards, Barclay joins John Hardie and David Denton in the back row, with second-row brothers Jonny and Richie Gray set to start their 10th Test match together, each packing down behind the all-Edinburgh Rugby front row of Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford and Willem Nel.

“There’s a huge amount of excitement and determination among the group to start well, and do well, in this Championship, and show that they have learned from past experiences and developed their game,” said Cotter.

“Playing in front of a sold-out BT Murrayfield Stadium is hugely motivating for the players, who are all very proud to wear the jersey as we know. They like working hard for each other in the no-excuse environment that exists in the squad.

“England will look to build their game from set-phase dominance, while we expect them to have developed their attacking play into the wider channels, which can create challenges as well as opportunities.

“We’re expecting them to be extremely motivated and physical, and we’re looking forward to that challenge.

“Continuity and accuracy will be key for us in this game.”

Just four of Scotland’s match-day 23 did not feature in the Rugby World Cup, with starting blindside Barclay back in the fold, Duncan Taylor and Stuart McInally returning from the injuries that prevented them taking part, and 20-year-old debutant-in-waiting prop Zander Fagerson.

Scotland

Stuart Hogg; Sean Maitland, Mark Bennett, Matt Scott, Tommy Seymour; Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw (capt); David Denton, John Hardie, John Barclay; Jonny Gray, Richie Gray; Willem Nel, Ross Ford, Alasdair Dickinson

Replacements: Stuart McInally, Gordon Reid, Zander Fagerson, Tim Swinson, Blair Cowan, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Duncan Weir, Duncan Taylor

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