The team news in the run up has been dominated by Alun Wyn Jones’s 149th appearance that sees him become the most capped international player ever. He has now turned out in 19% of every Wales test ever played and did the full 80 for most of them. Amazing stuff.
Joining the record-breaking captain in the second row is Will Rowlands of Wasps, whose part in the English club’s post-lockdown renaissance puts him in a starting berth for his country with Cory Hill moved to the bench. Elsewhere in the pack, Cardiff’s Shane Lewis-Hughes is handed a debut at blindside displacing last year’s bright young thing, Aaron Wainwright, who is out of the squad altogether.
Jonathan Davies and Owen Watkin form the centre partnership as Dragon Nick Tompkins loses his starting place. There was much wrong with Wales’s defence vs France, but Tompkins was noticeably susceptible to flying out of the line or over-committing, both of which left gaping holes for France to dance through. Given this has been an issue throughout his burgeoning international career Pivac appears to have seen this as the final straw; at least for now. However, the former Saracen’s ability to step with the ball and desire to take on risk in attack should see him bring plenty of impact off the bench.
For Scotland, Gregor Townsend and Finn Russell have cleared the air – perhaps not over a drink – and the Racing 92 imagineer is back in the ten shirt to partner Ali Price. Perhaps the more interesting partnership however is the creative one he could forge at 10-12 with James Lang. It’s often said that Russell needs a minder to curb his more troublesome risky instincts and Lang, with his skillset and decision making, could be just that.
Off the bench the men in Blue have plenty of craft from Adam Hastings and some power and no small amount of skill from recently qualified winger Duhan van der Merwe.
Wales: 15. Leigh Halfpenny; 14. Liam Williams, 13. Jonathan Davies, 12. Owen Watkin, 11. Josh Adams; 10. Dan Biggar, 9. Gareth Davies; 1. Rhys Carre, 2. Ryan Elias, 3. Tomas Francis, 4. Will Rowlands, 5. Alun Wyn Jones (c), 6. Shane Lewis-Hughes, 7. Justin Tipuric, 8. Taulupe Faletau
Replacements: 16. Sam Parry, 17. Wyn Jones, 18. Dillon Lewis, 19. Cory Hill, 20. James Davies, 21. Lloyd Williams, 22. Rhys Patchell, 23. Nick Tompkins
Scotland: 15. Stuart Hogg (c); 14. Darcy Graham, 13. Chris Harris, 12. James Lang, 11. Blair Kinghorn; 10. Finn Russell, 9. Ali Price; 1. Rory Sutherland, 2. Fraser Brown, 3. Zander Fagerson, 4. Scott Cummings, 5. Jonny Gray, 6. Jamie Ritchie, 7. Hamish Watson, 8. Blade Thomson
Replacements: 16. Stuart McInally, 17. Oli Kebble, 18. Simon Berghan, 19. Ben Toolis, 20. Cornell du Preez, 21. Scott Steele, 22. Adam Hastings, 23. Duhan van der Merwe