Stafford McDowall and Cameron Henderson set for Scotland debuts against Italy in Rugby World Cup warm-up clash

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has handed uncapped pair Stafford McDowell and Cameron Henderson an opportunity to impress after naming an experimental team to face Italy in Saturday’s Rugby World Cup warm-up clash; Rory Darge captains the hosts in the match at Murrayfield

        Stafford McDowall and Cameron Henderson set for Scotland debuts against Italy in Rugby World Cup warm-up clash

Stafford McDowall during a Scotland rugby training session at Murrayfield

Stafford McDowall and Cameron Henderson are set to make their Scotland debuts in their country’s first World Cup warm-up match at home to Italy on Saturday.

Head coach Gregor Townsend has named an experimental starting XV and replacements bench, with very few of his senior players involved as he runs the rule over his squad before finalising his 33-player group for the showpiece tournament in France in the coming weeks.

Glasgow Warriors centre McDowall starts in the midfield alongside Chris Harris, while Leicester Tigers second row Henderson has been named among the replacements in a team which Rory Darge will captain for the first time.

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Outside centre Harris and scrum-half Ali Price are back in the starting line-up after losing their places for the Six Nations earlier this year.

Elsewhere, there is a welcome return for Darcy Graham as he starts on the wing after missing the Six Nations through injury.

The Edinburgh man’s new clubmate Ben Healy, who won his first cap during the Six Nations, will make his first start at fly-half

Glasgow full-back Ollie Smith, who won his third cap in the final Six Nations match against the Italians in March, gets another chance to stake a claim for the No 15 jersey following the recent retirement of Stuart Hogg.

        Stafford McDowall and Cameron Henderson set for Scotland debuts against Italy in Rugby World Cup warm-up clash

Cameron Henderson is set to win his first Scotland cap off the replacements bench against Italy

In the pack, prop Rory Sutherland is back in the starting line-up while Murphy Walker will win his third cap.

Finn Russell, captain Jamie Ritchie, Grant Gilchrist, Huw Jones, Sione Tuipulotu, Richie Gray, Duhan Van Der Merwe, Pierre Schoeman, Zander Fagerson and Ben White are among several senior players who have been given the afternoon off.

Scotland have further World Cup warm-up matches against France, who they face home and away, and Georgia to come in August.

Townsend’s side then kick off their World Cup campaign against reigning champions South Africa in Marseille on September 10, with Ireland, Romania and Tonga providing their other opponents in Pool B.

Scotland team to face Italy

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

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.