Townsend banks on Barclay showing he is back to his best in French TestAFP
Edinburgh (AFP) -
Former Scotland captain John Barclay will make his first start for his country in almost a year-and-a-half when the Scots face France in a Rugby World Cup warm-up Test on Saturday.
The 32-year-old Hong Kong-born flanker, who was Scotland's skipper until he ruptured his Achilles tendon in March 2018, is one of a trio of players to get a Test start after a long absence from the team.
Fly-half Adam Hastings -- son of Scotland legend Gavin Hastings -- gets his first start since a victory over Argentina in 2018 and Ali Price will be his half-back partner.
Duncan Taylor will partner Huw Jones in the centres with the former making his first Test appearance in over two years due to a spate of injuries.
Edinburgh hooker Stuart McInally retains the captaincy, despite the return of Barclay, having led them in their 38-38 draw with England in the Six Nations earlier this year which had seen the Scots storm back to lead 38-31 after trailing 31-0.
Head coach Gregor Townsend names his World Cup squad on September 3, which comes after a double header with France and a trip to play Georgia -- who will also play the Scots in Edinburgh on September 6.
"A huge amount of work has gone in throughout the past two months in order to deliver our best level of performance in the Rugby World Cup," said Townsend.
"These four Tests are a vital part of that process in terms of testing our systems and combinations but also in seeing which players put their best foot forward when it comes to selection for the final 31-man group going to Japan next month."
The Scots -- who were judged unlucky to lose to Australia in the 2015 quarter-finals -- begin their Pool A campaign against their toughest rivals Ireland on September 22.
They go on to play Samoa on September 30, Russia on October 9 and round their pool play off with hosts Japan on October 13.
Stuart Hogg; Darcy Graham, Huw Jones, Duncan Taylor, Byron McGuigan; Adam Hastings, Ali Price; Josh Strauss, Jamie Ritchie, John Barclay; Grant Gilchrist, Ben Toolis; Simon Berghan, Stuart McInally (capt), Jamie Bhatti.
Replacements: George Turner, Gordon Reid, Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings, Matt Fagerson, George Horne, Rory Hutchinson, Blair Kinghorn
Coach: Gregor Townsend (SCO)