Barclay gets Scotland nod for France Six Nations clash

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Flanker John Barclay (C) has been the official Scotland captain once before when standing in for the injured Mike Blair against New Zealand in 2010 (AFP Photo/Andy BUCHANAN)
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Edinburgh (AFP) - Scarlets flanker John Barclay replaced the injured Ryan Wilson in the only change to the Scotland team announced on Friday for Sunday's Six Nations clash with France in Paris.

Glasgow's Wilson started Scotland's opening 27-22 win over Ireland at Murrayfield last weekend, but has since succumbed to an elbow infection.

Hooker Fraser Brown and fly-half Finn Russell retain their places despite both going off injured during the first half of the match against the Irish.

"France in Paris is a monumental challenge," said Scotland head coach Vern Cotter in comments published on the Scotland Rugby website.

"They have improved markedly since (head coach) Guy Noves took charge and will be smarting since their narrow defeat to England at Twickenham last weekend.

"This will be an excellent test for this group of players: mentally, physically, tactically, and of our skill-sets under pressure. We will need to be at our relentless best once again."

Barclay's place on the bench is taken by Edinburgh flanker John Hardie, whose club-mate Simon Berghan will make his international debut if he comes on.

The unchanged team sees Stuart Hogg line up again at full-back following his two-try, man-of-the-match performance against Ireland.

At 24 years and 233 days, Hogg will surpass Richie Gray as the youngest player to reach a half-century of Scotland caps.

"Congratulations to Hoggy on what will be a special milestone," Cotter said.

"It's a fantastic personal achievement, especially at such a young age, which is a good indication of how talented an individual he is and how important he's been to Scotland teams over the past five years.

"He's a very exciting player and, at just 24, he has a huge amount to offer Scotland for many more years to come."

Hogg is joined in the back line by wings Sean Maitland and Tommy Seymour, with Alex Dunbar and Huw Jones in midfield and Russell alongside Greig Laidlaw in the half-back roles.

Aside from Barclay's inclusion, the pack is unchanged, with Brown keeping his place following his 25th-minute departure against Ireland due to an eye problem.

"We're (France's) next opportunity to get their campaign up and running and they'll be intent on throwing every part of their considerable firepower at us this Sunday," Cotter added.

"We'll have to match their ferocity while ensuring we take that –- and all the other battles we can expect in this game –- on our terms, whether that's in collisions, in set-piece, at the breakdown or in the air."

Scotland team for Sunday's Six Nations match against France at Stade de France in Paris (1500 GMT kick-off):

Scotland (15-1)

Stuart Hogg; Sean Maitland, Huw Jones, Alex Dunbar, Tommy Seymour; Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw (capt); Josh Strauss, Hamish Watson, John Barclay, Jonny Gray, Richie Gray, Zander Fagerson, Fraser Brown, Allan Dell.

Replacements: Ross Ford, Gordon Reid, Simon Berghan, Tim Swinson, John Hardie, Ali Price, Duncan Weir, Mark Bennett