Scotland Under-20s head coach Kenny Murray has made seven changes to his starting fifteen ahead of the age-grade side's Six Nations Summer Series round two clash against Italy in Treviso.

The young Scots are looking to bounce back after a disappointing 45-15 loss to Wales in their opening game of the campaign on Saturday afternoon, but they know that they face a tough challenge against the host nations, who came out on top [27-13] when the two sides met back in March, and who picked up a confidence-boosting 36-19 win over Georgia at the weekend.

“It’s a four-day turnaround so it is bloody tough to get guys recovered and ready to go for another game, plus we want to use the full squad to give everyone an opportunity as well,” said Murray, when explaining the decision to change almost half his team.
“The boys are obviously disappointed [with the Wales game], we did a review and looked at areas we could be better at, especially winning collisions both sides of the ball,” he added. “And the big thing was our speed to get set, we were just a bit slow compared to Wales and that hurt us at times.

“So, the players know what they need to do to play better, and, after a light walk through today, they are full of energy. We know it’ll be a tough game, but they are looking forward to getting back into it.”

Gabe Jones of Brunel University/Ealing Trailfinders earns his first start for the side at full-back after impressing off the bench last time out, and he is joined in the back-three by powerful winger Ross McKnight, who missed the Wales game with a dead-leg.

“Gabe has been on the radar through SQ [Scottish Qualified] stuff and from watching his clips I felt like he was a player we should bring in and have a look at,” explained Murray. “He has a bit of X-factor, he is very, very quick, and he can beat players in small channels, so he is an exciting player to get involved.”

“With Ross coming back in and Kerr Johnston on the other wing, we have a couple of big men in the wide channels, which is hopefully going to help us this week,” he added.

It is all change at half-back with Ben Afshar replacing his Southern Knights team-mate Murray Redpath at scrum-half, while and Euan Cunningham comes in for Christian Townsend at stand-off.

“Ben is a really sharp young player, he’s quick and has a fantastic box-kick,” said Murray. “He’s quite tall for a nine so has quite long levers, which is a real asset in terms of kicking. 

"Euan was unfortunate during the Six Nations because he had a hamstring issue and didn’t play much, so the plan was always to give him a bit of a run.

In the pack, Murray has stuck with the same back and second-row combinations, but has picked an entirely new front-row, with hooker Patrick Harrison bringing the experience gained from playing pro rugby with Edinburgh towards the tail-end of the 2020-21 season, while Gregor Scougall replaces Callum Norrie – calf pull – at tight-head prop and Iain Carmichael gets a run-out at loose-head.
“Iain has been a hooker coming through, but we have some other good hookers also coming through like Patrick and Gregor Hiddleston, so we just felt he was a player who could offer us more as a loose-head prop,” explained the coach. “We had the discussion with him a while back about him potentially covering there and he was keen to do that, and he has done a decent job there, so that is why he is at prop.

“Paddy [Harrison] has had a frustrating season so far in terms of game time, so this is an opportunity to show what he can do,” added Murray.

There are 26 players in the matchday squad because of the condensed nature of the tournament. All 11 substitutes are available to be used during the match.