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Sunday 10 December 2017

Saint-Andre: Irish are favourites but France want to win

Philippe Saint-Andre
Philippe Saint-Andre

Scotland head coach Vern Cotter admits he has put his faith in his tried-and-trusted troops as he prepares for his introduction to the RBS 6 Nations.

The New Zealander has made just two alterations to the side which thudded five tries past hapless Tonga at Rugby Park in November ahead of tomorrow's opening clash with France in Paris.

Euan Murray takes Geoff Cross' slot in the front row, while centre Mark Bennett comes into the team in place of Sean Lamont.

British and Irish Lions full-back Stuart Hogg is passed fit, as is flanker Rob Harley, following injury concerns and their inclusion will allow Cotter to play his encouraging brand of fluid rugby against the French powerhouse pack.

The former Clermont Auvergne boss has got the Tartan Army fired up after an encouraging start in the Murrayfield top job.

That 37-12 autumn Test win over the Pacific Islanders followed another five-try success against Argentina and a narrow - yet brave - defeat to the world champion All Blacks.

Now the head coach says it is only right that the men who performed so well in the final battles of 2014 are given the chance to get the new year off to the perfect start in Paris.

He said: "It's the core of the team which played in the autumn series. I think they performed well and they now get an opportunity going into this very tough Six Nations campaign.

"This first game in Paris will be a real test."

France coach Philippe Saint-Andre insists his side are looking to win the Six Nations despite coming in asoutsiders.

"A tournament is sometimes nothing like last year," he said.

"We want to win this year. The Irish are favourites, but they are one of four nations capable of winning this tournament in 2015."

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