Scotland v Italy: Ben Toolis makes first start as WP Nel and Duncan Taylor also feature

Ben Toolis
Ben Toolis has not played for Scotland since a defeat by Italy in 2015
Scotland v Italy
Date: Saturday, 10 June Venue: Singapore National Stadium Kick-off: 13:00 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One Scotland, BBC Radio Scotland and the BBC Sport Scotland website

Edinburgh lock Ben Toolis will make his first Scotland start as Gregor Townsend takes charge for the first time when they face Italy in Singapore.

Clubmate WP Nel, who has not featured for a year, returns to the starting line-up on Saturday at tighthead prop after an injury-plagued season.

Duncan Taylor, a double European Cup winner with Saracens, also returns after a year's absence.

He starts at full-back in place of Stuart Hogg, who is on Lions duty.

Like Nel, Taylor has had an injury-disrupted season.

Toolis' only previous cap came as a replacement against Italy in a 2015 defeat at Murrayfield, where he was sin-binned after only eight minutes on the field.

But Townsend said: "Ben has been in outstanding form. He is a line-out leader, very good at competing for opposition ball, he is very athletic and works hard.

"We are exciting to see him working with Tim Swinson."

The Scotland side that will face Italy this time round shows nine changes from the starting XV that face the Azzuri in the Six Nations in March.

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Gregor Townsend: Scotland want to play fast rugby in Singapore heat

When taking over from Vern Cotter, Townsend had stressed the need for continuity, but he has been denied three players who have been called up for the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand, while injuries have also disrupted his plans.

Nel's hopes of joining the Lions were ended by a neck injury that meant he has only played 27 minutes of rugby since October, but he featured for the Barbarians 10 days ago in their defeat by England.

"If you start someone who has been out, you can control their game time," the coach said. "Off the bench, you can't really control if somebody gets injured.

"WP has trained really well, showed excellent work rate, got stuck into all contact sessions and is the player in our squad who has played most recently.

"He got a lot of confidence out of that game for the Barbarians."

Stuart Hogg and wing Tommy Seymour, off with the Lions, are replaced with Taylor and Damien Hoyland respectively,

Matt Scott comes into the centre in place of Huw Jones, who has a torn knee ligament, in the other change in the backs.

WP Nel in training with the Barbarians
WP Nel returned to action with the Barbarians against England

The forwards have changed heavily, with lock Jonny Gray rested after an exhausting season and flanker Hamish Watson missing out with a minor groin problem.

Only hooker Ross Ford and skipper John Barclay featured in both sides, with the other significant change being the return of Josh Strauss at number eight after recovering from a torn kidney.

"Any selection is tough, at international level selection is one of the most important factors in success," Townsend added.

"We have a tour of three games and a squad of 34, so I imagine the teams will change before the end of the tour.

"This was about seeing new combinations, rewarding players in form and also allowing an opportunity to players who have worked hard and got back from being injured - the likes of Nel, Strauss and Scott. It was as difficult as any selection.

"We want to play well, prepare a team to win, to find a way to win."

Scotland: D Taylor (Saracens); D Hoyland (Edinburgh), M Scott (Gloucester), A Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors), T Visser (Harlequins); F Russell (Glasgow Warriors), A Price (Glasgow Warriors); A Dell (Edinburgh), R Ford (Edinburgh), WP Nel (Edinburgh), T Swinson (Glasgow Warriors), B Toolis (Edinburgh), J Barclay (Scarlets), J Hardie (Edinburgh), J Strauss (Glasgow Warriors).

Replacements: F Brown (Glasgow Warriors), G Reid (Glasgow Warriors), Z Fagrson (Glasgow Warriors), R Harley (Glasgow Warriors), M Bradbury (Edinburgh), R Wilson (Glasgow Warriors), H Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors), P Horne (Glasgow Warriors).

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