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Scotland hand debut to Van der Merwe, Russell on bench for Georgia clash

Duhan van der Merwe will make his first appearance for Scotland this weekend. Photo by Craig Williamson/SNS Group via Getty Images

Scotland handed South African-born winger Duhan van der Merwe his first cap when coach Gregor Townsend on Wednesday named the team for the test against Georgia at Murrayfield on Friday.

Front row forward Oli Kebble, another uncapped South African-born player, is listed among the replacements for the warm-up international ahead of the Oct. 31 Six Nations clash with Wales at Llanelli.

Both had qualified through residency in recent weeks and been quickly incorporated into the team.

Fraser Brown will captain the side for the first time with James Lang lining up at inside centre, having last featured in mid-2018.

Townsend said he had picked his strongest possible side, including a return for Finn Russell, who will start on the bench after playing for his French club Racing 92 in their European Champions Cup final loss to Exeter last weekend.

"He has integrated well back into the squad and shown an improvement in his skills set," Townsend said about the mercurial halfback, who was kicked out of the Scottish team for disciplinary reasons at the start of the year.

Scotland play for the first time in seven months with Townsend looking for indicators for the rest of their international programme over the next two months.

"It's a game that will probably lead to what work we will have to do in training next week ahead of the Wales," he added. "We are expecting a tough physical battle with Georgia."

Scotland squad:

Starting XV:

Blair Kinghorn, Darcy Graham, Chris Harris, James Lang, Duhan van der Merwe, Adam Hastings, Ali Price, Matt Fagerson, Hamish Watson, Jamie Ritchie, Scott Cummings, Ben Toolis, Zander Fagerson, Fraser Brown (captain), Rory Sutherland.

Replacements:

Stuart McInally, Oli Kebble, Simon Berghan, Rob Harley, Nick Haining, Cornell du Preez, George Horne, Finn Russell.