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Kerr handed debut chance with Scotland

Jake Kerr has been named in Scotland’s matchday squad for the first time for their Guinness Six Nations opener against Italy on Saturday.

Leicester Tigers hooker Kerr, 22, has enjoyed a breakthrough season in senior rugby, making 14 appearances in league and cup, and was rewarded with a call-up to the national squad. Now he has been named among the replacements for Saturday’s opening fixture at BT Murrayfield Stadium (kick-off 2.15pm).

He is among three uncapped players in Gregor Townsend’s 23, with Sam Johnson given a start at centre and Newcastle Falcons back-rower Gary Graham on the bench.

Head coach Townsend said: “It’s a privilege to be involved in the Guinness Six Nations, a tournament that has grown in quality over the past few seasons.

“Italy have made life tough for Scotland in every match we’ve played. I remember that as a player, as a supporter and as a coach – and they were better than us in most of last season’s contest in Rome. They played with pace, were physical and we had to play really, really well in the final quarter to win.

"Our challenge is to win the physical battle, which is a strength of Italian rugby. We will also have to bring energy and accuracy in order to get our campaign off to a winning start.”

Tigers supporters can follow all of the action from Edinburgh and in Dublin where Ireland host England at the Six Nations Sports Bar at Welford Road. Click here for more details.

Scotland (v Italy, Edinburgh, Saturday 2.15pm)

15 Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors) - 65 caps
14 Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors) - 46 caps
13 Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors) - 19 caps
12 Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors) - uncapped
11 Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh) - 7 caps
10 Finn Russell (Racing 92) - 40 caps
9 Greig Laidlaw (Clermont Auvergne) (c) - 66 caps
1 Allan Dell (Edinburgh) - 17 caps
2 Stuart McInally (Edinburgh) - 22 caps
3 Willem Nel (Edinburgh) - 26 caps
4 Ben Toolis (Edinburgh) - 14 caps
5 Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh) - 28 caps
6 Sam Skinner (Exeter Chiefs) - 3 caps
7 Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh) - 6 caps
8 Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors) - 41 caps

Replacements
16 Jake Kerr (Leicester Tigers) - uncapped

17 Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors) - 11 caps
18 Simon Berghan (Edinburgh) - 14 caps
19 Gary Graham (Newcastle Falcons) - uncapped
20 Josh Strauss (Sale Sharks) - 17 caps
21 Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) - 19 caps
22 Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors) - 7 caps
23 Chris Harris (Newcastle Falcons) - 6 caps

Italy: to follow