Scotland v Italy: Greig Laidlaw is captain as star names return

Captain Greig Laidlaw will be partnered by fly-half Finn Russell
Captain Greig Laidlaw will be partnered by fly-half Finn Russell
Rugby World Cup
Hosts: England and Wales Dates: 18 September-31 October
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live and sports extra, BBC Radio Wales and in Welsh on BBC Radio Cymru, plus live text commentary on every match on the BBC Sport website.

Greig Laidlaw resumes the captaincy as Scotland continue their World Cup preparations against Italy on Saturday.

The Gloucester scrum-half led Vern Cotter's team during the autumn Tests and this year's Six Nations campaign.

This is his first game of the summer, having sat out of the loss to Ireland and the win over Italy in Turin.

There are 15 changes in the 25-man squad, with Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell among the established players entering the fray.

Two more backs also appear for the first time in this series of warm-up matches; centre Mark Bennett and winger Tommy Seymour.

Nine alterations to the pack include two players yet to feature - lock Jonny Gray and back-row Ryan Wilson.

Lock Grant Gilchrist is included after recovering from the sickness that prevented him from skippering the side in last Saturday's 16-12 victory against the Italians.

Stuart Hogg
Full-back Stuart Hogg may make his first appearance of the summer at Murrayfield

Alasdair Strokosch led the Scots in Gilchrist's absence, while Henry Pyrgos assumed the captain's role in Dublin.

Following a winless Six Nations, Laidlaw is pleased to take up the responsibility again.

"There's always pressure and the players who've captained against Ireland and Italy have done a great job," he told BBC Scotland. "But, in terms of myself, I'll play my own game; you can't take your eye off the ball.

"I know the players and coaches respect me and vice versa.

"It would be a huge honour to captain Scotland at the World Cup but I have to play my own game and then what will be will be.

"It's a great honour and I'm delighted to be pulling on the shirt again. It's my first game of the season so I'm sure the lungs will be burning at some point."

Cotter fielded experimental sides in the first two summer Tests and released seven players from his squad on Monday.

Italy's return visit to Murrayfield is the final match before the head coach has to name his 31-man party for the World Cup.

A final warm-up game follows away to France, while Scotland kick off the tournament against Japan on 23 September.

Scotland squad

Forwards: John Barclay (Scarlets), Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors), Blair Cowan (London Irish), David Denton, Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford, Grant Gilchrist (all Edinburgh Rugby), Jonny Gray, Robert Harley (both Glasgow Warriors), Stuart McInally, Willem Nel (both Edinburgh Rugby), Ryan Wilson, Gordon Reid (both Glasgow Warriors), Jon Welsh (Newcastle Falcons).

Backs: Mark Bennett, Stuart Hogg, Peter Horne (all Glasgow Warriors), Greig Laidlaw (captain, Gloucester), Sean Lamont, Finn Russell, Henry Pyrgos, Tommy Seymour (all Glasgow Warriors), Greig Tonks (Edinburgh Rugby), Matt Scott (Edinburgh Rugby), Tim Visser (Harlequins).

Top Stories