Former Ireland age-grade star handed fly-half berth for Scotland as Rory Darge captains against Italy

 Credit: Alamy

Credit: Alamy

Former Ireland U20 player Ben Healy has been given an opportunity to prove his worth ahead of the Rugby World Cup after being handed a starting role against Italy.

Born and raised in Ireland but with Scottish ancestry, the pivot will make his first start for Gregor Townsend’s men this weekend.

Healy was named in the squad for the Six Nations and made his international debut against the Azzurri in the final round of that competition.

Scotland’s preferred back-up

Blair Kinghorn has generally been Finn Russell’s back-up in the 10 jersey, and he takes his place on the bench for Saturday’s clash.

However, following Stuart Hogg’s retirement, Townsend may seek to move Kinghorn back into the 15 shirt.

That spot is now open and Ollie Smith gets his chance to stake a claim after being named in the back three alongside Darcy Graham and Kyle Steyn.

There is just one uncapped player in the starting XV and that comes at centre as the powerful Stafford McDowall seeks to impress.

He partners the ever-reliable Chris Harris in the midfield, while at scrum-half the equally experienced Ali Price will look to help Healy in the decision-making duties.

Up front, 23-year-old Rory Darge gets the honour of captaining the team and he is joined in the back-row by Luke Crosbie and Matt Fagerson.

Scott Cummings and Sam Skinner are the lock pairing, with Murphy Walker, George Turner and Rory Sutherland completing the pack.

On the bench, second-row Cameron Henderson will make his Test bow if he comes on, while fellow youngster Jamie Dobie will be looking to add to his one cap.

Stuart McInally, Jamie Bhatti, Javan Sebastian, Josh Bayliss and Cameron Redpath are the other replacements.

The team

Scotland: 15 Ollie Smith, 14 Darcy Graham, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Stafford McDowall, 11 Kyle Steyn, 10 Ben Healy, 9 Ali Price, 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Rory Darge (c), 6 Luke Crosbie, 5 Scott Cummings, 4 Sam Skinner, 3 Murphy Walker, 2 George Turner, 1 Rory Sutherland

Replacements: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 Jamie Bhatti, 18 Javan Sebastian, 19 Cameron Henderson, 20 Josh Bayliss, 21 Jamie Dobie, 22 Blair Kinghorn, 23 Cameron Redpath

Date: Saturday, July 29

Venue: Murrayfield

Kick-off: 15:15 BST (14:15 GMT)

Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)

Assistant Referees: Mathieu Raynal (France), Adam Leal (England)

TMO: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)

READ MORE: Loose Pass: Sticking plaster solutions, ended Rugby World Cup dreams and Michael Leitch’s red card

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