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Taylor returns for Scots as team to face France is named

Gregor Townsend has made his selection for the opening summer test.

Taylor is back in Gregor Townsend's Scotland team.
Taylor is back in Gregor Townsend's Scotland team. SNS Group

Duncan Taylor will make his first Scotland appearance for two years when the Saracens centre starts against France in Nice on Saturday.

The 29-year-old has been plagued by injuries but will make his long-awaited return as Gregor Townsend's team kick-off their World Cup warm-up clashes at the Allianz Riviera.

Flanker John Barclay will also win his first cap since March last year. The Edinburgh forward has not played for his country since rupturing his Achilles on his final outing for former employers Scarlets.

Edinburgh hooker Stuart McInally returns as captain having led the side to the dramatic retention of the Calcutta Cup in the Guinness Six Nations finale earlier this year and takes to the field in a near all-Edinburgh pack.

He partners tighthead prop Simon Berghan and the club's new signing Jamie Bhatti in the front-row, with Grant Gilchrist and Ben Toolis returning to start in the second-row as they did at Twickenham.

Vice-captain Barclay and Jamie Ritchie complete the capital club's contribution in the back-row with Blue Bulls number eight Josh Strauss starting at the tail of the pack.

Glasgow Warriors stand-off Adam Hastings is handed his first start since the 2018 Autumn Test victory over Argentina, alongside clubmate and scrum-half Ali Price, while a new-look centre partnership of Taylor and Glasgow's Huw Jones mans the midfield for the first time.

New Exeter full-back Stuart Hogg anchors the back-three with fellow Hawick man Darcy Graham and Sale Sharks' Byron McGuigan on the wing to complete the starting side.

Townsend said: "A huge amount of work has gone in throughout the past two months in order to deliver our best level of performance in the Rugby World Cup."

Townsend - whose side complete their preparations for Japan 2019 by hosting Les Bleus a week on Saturday before home-and-away clashes with Georgia - said: "These four Tests are a vital part of that process in terms of testing our systems and combinations but also in seeing which players put their best foot forward when it comes to selection for the final 31-man group going to Japan next month.

"As a coaching group we're pleased to be able to take a strong squad across to France for this opening Test.

"We've enjoyed seeing the players working hard and becoming closer as a team in our camp.

"We've been impressed by the quality of play they've delivered in training but fundamentally it's been about preparing to play.

"We're now very much looking forward to seeing our men perform in these Test matches."

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