Skippers return to Scottish sides for crunch PRO12 game

Glasgow will look to move ahead of Ulster with a win against Edinburgh in the PRO12
Glasgow will look to move ahead of Ulster with a win against Edinburgh in the PRO12

Scotland lock Al Kellock returns to captain Glasgow in Saturday’s meeting with Edinburgh at Scotstoun.

Ruaridh Jackson, who announced his summer move to London Wasps on Wednesday, comes in at stand-off, while prop Ryan Grant starts.

A home win would lift the Warriors to second in the Pro12 table.

Edinburgh also welcome back their skipper, with Greig Laidlaw resuming his scrum-half duties after a six-week break following the Six Nations.

Forward trio Grant Gilchrist, Izak van der Westhuizen and Alasdair Dickinson are back from injury for the visitors, along with Cornell Du Preez in the back row.

“Every game we play just now has added importance and although we’ve put ourselves in a good position, there is a lot of rugby still to be played,” said Glasgow head coach Gregor Townsend.

Mark Bennett keeps his place at outside centre for Glasgow following his man-of-the-match in the 27-9 win over Ulster and Finn Russell switches from number 10 to inside centre in place of the injured Peter Horne.

There are three changes in the home pack, with Grant in for Gordon Reid, Kellock replacing Tim Swinson and Rob Harley starts at blindside flanker, with Josh Strauss moving to number eight.

“We were pleased with aspects of the game against Ulster last week, in particular the performance over the last 50 minutes,” added Townsend. “It’s imperative that we back that up against Edinburgh.

“Edinburgh are a really physical side who have beaten Leinster, Munster and Ospreys this season, so we know we’re facing a strong challenge.

“Focus and accuracy will be key elements in order to build on our momentum - and if we’re to secure vital league points and retain the 1872 Cup.

“Everyone has had to wait a while for this game but it should be a fantastic occasion and we’re all really looking forward to it.”

The original New Year’s Day fixture was postponed due to heavy rain, with Glasgow having won 20-16 in the Boxing Day match at Murrayfield.

The aggregate winners will take home the 1872 Cup,

Laidlaw is moving to Gloucester in the summer and Edinburgh head coach Alan Solomons said: “I think this is a fantastic way for Greig to finish his time with Edinburgh Rugby, first to lead the side against Glasgow in this derby match, then again against Munster in our last home game of the season and then away against a top European side like Leinster.

“He will add a lot of value to the team with his experience and leadership and, while your first game back is always tough, he has a good temperament, is a good player, and is the kind of individual that will give a good account of himself.”

Glasgow Warriors: Peter Murchie, Sean Maitland, Mark Bennett, Finn Russell, Tommy Seymour, Ruaridh Jackson, Chris Cusiter, Ryan Grant, Dougie Hall, Jon Welsh, Jonny Gray, Al Kellock (capt), Rob Harley, Chris Fusaro, Josh Strauss.

Replacements: Pat MacArthur, Jerry Yanuyanutawa, Moray Low, Leone Nakarawa, Ryan Wilson, Niko Matawalu, Duncan Weir, Richie Vernon.

Edinburgh: Jack Cuthbert, Tom Brown, Matt Scott, Andries Strauss, Tim Visser, Carl Bezuidenhout, Greig Laidlaw (capt), Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford, Willem Nel, Grant Gilchrist, Izak van der Westhuizen, Mike Coman, Cornell Du Preez, David Denton.

Replacements: James Hilterbrand, Wicus Blaauw, Simon Berghan, Ben Toolis, Tomas Leonardi, Grayson Hart, Piers Francis, Sam Beard.