Robert Harley, the 22-year-old Glasgow Warriors forward, will make his first start at Murrayfield and in the RBS 6 Nations Championship, in the Scotland team to play Italy on Saturday.
Harley, who scored the match-winning try against Samoa on debut when he was introduced off the bench on the summer tour in the baking South Pacific heat, replaces the injured Alasdair Strokosch in the Scotland back-row.
Strokosch will be examined by a specialist surgeon at Spire Murrayfield Hospital today to determine whether he can play any further part in the championship after the eye socket damage he sustained at the weekend.
A product of Douglas Academy in Milngavie and the West of Scotland club, Harley has played age-grade rugby for Scotland, being a mainstay of the Scotland under-20 team in 2009 and 2010 and has also represented Scotland A. He has already undertaken captaincy duties with Glasgow Warriors.
The only other change to the starting line-up sees British Lion Ross Ford return at hooker in place of Dougie Hall, who sustained a knee injury in the Calcutta Cup match.
Hall and his Glasgow Warriors club-mate Pat MacArthur are both bracketed for the substitute hooker role with a decision to be made, pending Hall’s fitness, later this week.
Scotland interim head coach Scott Johnson said: “I had the pleasure of working with Robert on our tour last summer.
“He’s big and aggressive and he’s been knocking on the door for selection for a wee while. He deserves this chance as a reward for his club form.
“Italy’s victory against France in Rome was well-deserved and certainly didn’t surprise us. It will be a true Test match this weekend and it would be great to have a big vocal Murrayfield crowd supporting the boys this weekend.”
Scotland team (sponsor RBS) to play Italy in the RBS 6 Nations Championship on Saturday 9 February at Murrayfield (kick-off 2.30pm).
15 Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors) 11 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
14 Sean Maitland (Glasgow Warriors) 1 cap, 1 try, 5 points
13 Sean Lamont (Glasgow Warriors) 72 caps, 8 tries, 40 points
12 Matt Scott (Edinburgh Rugby) 8 caps
11 Tim Visser (Edinburgh Rugby) 6 caps, 4 tries, 20 points
10 Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow Warriors) 16 caps, 2 conversions, 2 penalties, 2 drop-goals, 16 points
9 Greig Laidlaw (Edinburgh Rugby) vice captain 14 caps, 2 tries, 12 conversions and 24 penalties, 106 points
1 Ryan Grant (Glasgow Warriors) vice captain 6 caps
2 Ross Ford (Edinburgh Rugby) 64 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
3 Euan Murray (Worcester Warriors) 50 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
4 Richie Gray (Sale Sharks) 28 caps, 1 try. 5 points
5 Jim Hamilton (Gloucester) 42 caps, 1 try, 5 points
6 Robert Harley (Glasgow Warriors) 1 cap, 1 try, 5 points
7 Kelly Brown (Saracens) captain, 53 caps, 4 tries, 20 points
8 Johnnie Beattie (Montpellier) 17 caps, 3 tries, 15 points
16 Pat MacArthur (Glasgow Warriors) uncapped
17 Moray Low (Glasgow Warriors) 15 caps
18 Geoff Cross (Edinburgh Rugby) 17 caps, 1 try, 5 points
19 Alastair Kellock (Glasgow Warriors) 48 caps, 1 try, 5 points
20 David Denton (Edinburgh Rugby) 10 caps
21 Henry Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors) 4 caps, 1 try, 5 points
22 Duncan Weir (Glasgow Warriors) 2 caps, 1 conversion, 2 points
23 Max Evans (Castres) 33 caps, 3 tries, 15 points
Not considered due to injury: Alasdair Strokosch (Perpignan), Peter Horne, Chris Cusiter, and Chris Fusaro (all Glasgow Warriors), Ross Rennie (Edinburgh Rugby) and Scott Lawson (London Irish).
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa). Assistant referees: John Lacey (Ireland) and Leighton Hodges (Wales). TMO: Marshall Kilgore (Ireland)
Rob Harley revving up for his first start for Scotland
Robert Harley Background
Age (date of birth)
Rob Harley made his first appearance for Scotland A as a blindside flanker in the 25-0 win over USA Eagles at Netherdale in November 2010, and came off the bench to help the side win 32-13 against Ireland Wolfhounds in January 2011. He made a stunning try-scoring debut for Scotland – as player number 1034 – in the victory over Samoa, sealing a clean sweep of wins against southern hemisphere opposition in June 2012.
The back-five forward made his debut for the West of Scotland club in season 2006-2007 while he was still a pupil at Douglas Academy, Milngavie. That season, too, he played for the Scotland under-17 team who won all three of their matches in the Millfield School international festival in Somerset, and he went on to start in all six of the national under-18 team’s matches in March-April 2008, including the three in the Six Nations Festival in Cork, Ireland.
Robert John Harley had played for Scotland at under-17 and under-18 levels before he made his Scotland under-20 debut as a replacement against Samoa in the IRB Junior World Championship in Japan in June 2009. Two more replacement appearances followed in that tournament before he started in the wins against Fiji and Tonga.
His youth and experience meant that he would go one to be a key member of the 2010 u20 6 Nations where he started every match. Robert’s performances earned him a contract at Glasgow Warriors where he would begin his rugby after the 2010 IRB JWC in Argentina where he started all but one game (featured as a replacement against South Africa) and scored in the ninth-place play off final defeat to Ireland.