Saracens forward Brown regains Scotland captaincy for France clash

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Interim coach Scott Johnson has recalled Saracens star Kelly Brown to the Scotland side to face France at Murrayfield.

The 31-year-old, who has not featured for the Scots since being dropped after defeat to Ireland on the opening weekend of the championship, comes into the back row alongside Johnny Beattie and David Denton and regains the captaincy from Greig Laidlaw.

“I think Saturday is a game that will really suit Kelly,” said Johnson.

“Unlike other sides in the competition, France play above the ground a bit and there will be a lot of mauling. I’ve picked a side that can win the game.”

Scotland, 11/4 for victory over the French, are looking to build on their last-gasp win over Italy and Geoff Cross comes into the starting XV after impressing from the bench in Rome.

Ryan Wilson has been struggling with illness this week so Johnson has re-shuffled his back row with Beattie moving to blindside flanker to make way for Denton to play number eight.

Wilson is fit enough to take a place on the bench, while Chris Fusaro and Moray Low have been dropped from the squad after the win at the Stadio Olimpico.

The Scots have also been boosted by the return of prop Euan Murray from a thumb injury to face a France side who still harbour hopes of winning the Six Nations title, something on at 8/1 with Ladbrokes.

The Worcester Warriors forward, who has won 58 caps for his country, missed the first three games of the Championship but his return strengthens Scotland’s options on the bench.

Johnson has named an unchanged back division as his side go in search of a first victory over the French since 2006.

The Scots put in a majestic performance that day to run out 20-16 winners in Edinburgh and it will take a similar effort to stop Phillipe Saint-Andre’s side, who are heavy favourites at 3/10 for the win in the Scottish capital.

Scotland XV to face France: Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors), Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors), Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors), Matt Scott (Edinburgh), Sean Lamont (Glasgow Warriors), Duncan Weir (Glasgow Warriors), Greig Laidlaw (Edinburgh); Ryan Grant (Glasgow Warriors), Scott Lawson (Newcastle Falcons), Geoff Cross (Edinburgh), Richie Gray (Castres), Jim Hamilton (Montpellier), Johnny Beattie (Montpellier), Kelly Brown (Saracens, capt), David Denton (Edinburgh).

Replacements: Ross Ford (Edinburgh), Alasdair Dickinson (Edinburgh), Euan Murray (Worcester Warriors), Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors), Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors), Chris Cusiter (Glasgow Warriors), Duncan Taylor (Saracens), Max Evans (Castres).

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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