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LionsWatch: France v Scotland

LionsWatch: France v Scotland

Scotland haven’t won in France since 1999 but after their stunning 27-22 victory over Ireland last weekend, Vern Cotter’s men will be looking to end that barren run.

"At just 24, he has a huge amount to offer Scotland for many more years to come"

Scotland haven’t won in France since 1999 but after their stunning 27-22 victory over Ireland last weekend, Vern Cotter’s men will be looking to end that barren run.

The Scots have recorded two victories over the French in Edinburgh since then, including last year, so have form which would suggest an incredibly tight tussle in France.

With the upcoming British & Irish Lions Tour to New Zealand on the minds of many fans and pundits, Scotland’s players will have done their chances of a ticket on the plane no harm at all last weekend.

Another victory, in the intimidating surroundings of the Stade de France, over Les Bleus could go a long way to earning them selection by Head Coach Warren Gatland.
 
TEAM NEWS

The performance at home last week means Cotter has stuck with the majority of his XV including full-back Stuart Hogg who will be the youngest Scot to reach 50 caps.

Ryan Wilson is the only man who featured against Ireland unavailable in France after picking up an elbow infection with John Barclay stepping into the back row.

John Hardie is brought into the replacements instead of Barclay in the only other change to Cotter’s matchday 23.

The 2013 British & Irish Lions Richie Gray, Sean Maitland and Hogg all start giving them a chance to impress Gatland and earn a place on a second Tour.
 

TEAM | Scotland back-3 v France: Hogg set to be youngest Scot to hit 50 caps alongside familiar wing-men Seymour and Maitland! pic.twitter.com/TvB4uf3lQT

— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) February 10, 2017


France’s only change is also in the back row with Loann Goujon packing down alongside Kevin Gourdon and Louis Picamoles instead of Damien Chouly.
 
HEAD TO HEAD

France pushed England all the way at Twickenham and looked like they were going to go on and earn the win before the hosts’ late try.

Gray made six appearances for the British & Irish Lions in Australia four years ago and will come against a familiar foe in Yoann Maestri on Saturday.

Maestri and Gray are team-mates at Toulouse so will know each other’s games inside out as they each attempt to get the upper hand at the set-piece.

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Elsewhere, the 30-year-old Scott Spedding starts at full-back to earn his 20th international cap and is up against 2016 Player of the Championship Hogg.

The full-back scored two cracking tries against Ireland as he continues his incredible form at international – he has four tries in his last two matches.

Finally, Baptiste Serin goes up against Gloucester captain Greig Laidlaw, earning his second straight start under Noves after three straight replacement appearances in the autumn.

Laidlaw kicked 15 points against the Irish and will be desperate to get quick ball to the likes of Finn Russell at fly-half and ignite the Scottish backline.
 
FAMILIAR FACES

Three of the four Scottish representatives of the 2013 Tour to Australia are present in their starting XV to take on Les Bleus.

Hogg kicked 23 points for the Lions in his five appearances but failed to earn a Test cap, something he will want to rectify if he is selected to tour New Zealand.

Winger Maitland scored a try in the 35-0 Lions victory over Melbourne Rebels between the first and second Tests back in 2013 and joins Hogg and Tommy Seymour in Scotland’s back three.

While Richie Gray, who is in the second row alongside his brother Jonny, came off the bench in the third Test victory in Sydney and has been in superb form in recent months.

? | @finn_russell steps up to speak to media before the @Scotlandteam head for Paris later this afternoon! ?? ??? pic.twitter.com/7Llvl4Zbf3

— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) February 10, 2017


 
WHAT THEY’VE BEEN SAYING

Guy Noves on Scotland:
“They had a tough year or two but now their work is starting to bear fruit.

“You can see that physically and technically they’re not the same Scotland of a few years ago.”

Vern Cotter on Stuart Hogg:
"He's a very exciting player and, at just 24, he has a huge amount to offer Scotland for many more years to come.

"It's a fantastic personal achievement (50 caps), especially at such a young age, which is a good indication of how talented an individual he is and how important he's been to Scotland teams over the past five years.”

France: Scott Spedding, Noa Nakaitaci, Gael Fickou, Remi Lamerat, Virimi Vakatawa, Camille Lopez, Baptiste Serin, Cyril Baille, Guilhem Guirado, Uini Atonio, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Yoann Maestri, Loann Goujon, Kevin Gourdon, Louis Picamoles

Replacements: Christopher Tolofua, Rabah Slimani, Xavier Chiocci, Julien Le Devedec, Damien Chouly, Maxime Machenaud, Jean-Marc Doussain, Yoann Huget

Scotland: Stuart Hogg, Sean Maitland, Huw Jones, Alex Dunbar, Tommy Seymour, Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw, Allan Dell, Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson, Richie Gray, Jonny Gray, John Barclay, Hamish Watson, Josh Strauss

Replacements: Ross Ford, Gordon Reid, Simon Berghan, Tim Swinson, John Hardie, Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors, Duncan Weir, Mark Bennett
 

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