Scotland bring Finn Russell back to face Samoa

Finn Russell has signed for three years with Glasgow

Scotland head coach Vern Cotter has named his team to play Samoa in their crucial Rugby World Cup Pool B match at St James’ Park, Newcastle with Finn Russell returning to the side.

Scotland are second in the Pool but with Japan close behind they need a victory over Samoa to gaurantee a place in the quarter-finals.

Samoa are out of contention for the last eight but have had a disappointing tournament and will no doubt want to end their campaign on a positive note.

Scotland Head Coach Vern Cotter, said: “Every Test match is a ‘must-win’ when you represent your country.”

“We’ve put in a huge amount of work to get us to this point, and our performances and commitment have put us in a position to qualify for the last eight.

“We’ll need to be up to the challenge, enjoy the opportunity, and maintain the awareness needed to play to our strengths and impose our game.”

Cotter has made seven changes to the starting line-up that lost out to South Africa last weekend (34-16) – three of which are returning from injury: back-row John Hardie (return-to-play protocol), wing Sean Maitland (hand) and stand-off Finn Russell (ankle).

Outside-centre Mark Bennett also returns to partner Matt Scott in midfield, while full-back Stuart Hogg, wing Tommy Seymour and captain Greig Laidlaw start once again.

The three remaining changes to the starting pack are all promoted from the bench: Alasdair Dickinson and Ross Ford join Willem Nel in the front-row, while Ryan Wilson starts in the back-row alongside Hardie and number 8 David Denton.

Richie Gray will win his 50th cap for his country this Saturday having been reinstated in the second-row alongside brother Jonny, while Sean Lamont could become the third Scotland internationalist to make 100 appearances – joining centurions Chris Paterson (109; 1999 to 2011) and Donna Kennedy (115; 1993 to 2010) – should he take to the field from the bench against the team he faced on his 2004 debut.

If Scotland are successful this Saturday they will face the winner of Pool A (Australia or Wales) at Twickenham Stadium the following weekend.

Scotland

15 Stuart Hogg ,14 Sean Maitland , 13 Mark Bennett , 12 Matt Scott , 11 Tommy Seymour ,10 Finn Russell , 9 Greig Laidlaw (c),1 Alasdair Dickinson, 2 Ross Ford , 3 Willem Nel, 4 Richie Gray , 5 Jonny Gray , 6 Ryan Wilson , 7 John Hardie , 8 David Denton ,

Replacements : 16 Fraser Brown , 17 Gordon Reid , 18 Jon Welsh , 19 Tim Swinson , 20 Josh Strauss , 21 Henry Pyrgos , 22 Peter Horne, 23 Sean Lamont

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