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Page last updated at 11:28 GMT, Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Scotland drop full-back Paterson

Date: Sunday, 8 February Kick-off: 1500 GMT Venue: Murrayfield
Coverage: Screened live on BBC ONE and online plus full commentary on BBC Radio Scotland and online

Six Nations squad is well balanced - Hadden

Scotland's record points scorer Chris Paterson has been dropped for Sunday's Six Nations opener against Wales.

Edinburgh's Hugo Southwell comes in at full-back for the showdown with the reigning champions at Murrayfield.

Southwell's club-mate Geoff Cross, 26, wins his first cap in the front row to take the place of Northampton's Euan Murray, who has damaged ribs.

Nathan Hines misses out because of a knee injury and his place in the second row is taken by Sale's Jason White.

Graeme Morrison, Sean Lamont, Jason White and Allister Hogg are also brought in as other changes head coach Frank Hadden has made from the side that beat Canada.

Team doctor James Robson said of absentees Murray and Hines: "They continue to make slow but steady progress.

"It's too early at this stage to give an accurate prognosis of whether they will be available for selection next week."

Despite the injuries to key players, Hadden remains confident that the starting XV can perform against Wales.


"I have been referring recently to the growing strength in depth of the Scotland squad," said the head coach.

"The quality of the side we've chosen to play Wales is an excellent example of that."

Edinburgh's tight-head prop Cross joined the Scotland squad that travelled to play the Pumas last summer, but only now is he being given the chance to shine.

"Having waited patiently through five games, it's great that he now has this opportunity," said Hadden.

The omission of Gloucester flanker Alasdair Strokosch and Glasgow Warriors' Thom Evans, this season's top try scorer in Scotland, will raise eyebrows, as will the inclusion of White, whose appearances for Sale this season have been limited.

But the biggest gamble is surely the dropping of Paterson, Scotland's record cap holder and arguably the most consistent points-kicker in world rugby.

Paterson has only recently recovered from a rib injury and Hadden admitted that he and his fellow selectors thought "long and hard" about demoting him to the bench.

Interviews: Jason White and Hugo Southwell

"The stats this year tell us that Chris Paterson is the best goal-kicker in the northern hemisphere currently on 86% but that Phil Godman's number five on 79%," explained Hadden.

"Phil was at 86% until a week or so ago when he started having hamstring trouble. They were number one and two all season until then.

"Phil has a very good track record at international level."

On the surprise exclusion of in-form winger Evans, Hadden added: "Thom is definitely hot. He's a young guy who's done all we could have asked of him in the last couple of years. Make no mistake about it, his time will come.

"I've been saying repeatedly that we're looking for guys who can make the tough decisions under pressure and we've got two very mature players available who we have a lot of confidence in.

"Thom, as a young and inexperienced player, has yet to show the maturity in that area."

Scotland will be hoping to upset the reigning Six Nations champions by claiming a ninth win from the last 12 starts against Wales in Edinburgh.

But they will need to manage without a recognised lock on the bench, with Hadden confirming Taylor would switch from number eight should injury strike.

Sale's Rory Lamont, Ospreys winger Nikki Walker and Edinburgh trio Dave Callam, Ross Rennie and Matt Mustchin were unavailable for selection through injury.

Scotland team:
Hugo Southwell (Edinburgh); Simon Webster (Edinburgh), Ben Cairns (Edinburgh), Graeme Morrison (Glasgow), Sean Lamont (Northampton); Phil Godman (Edinburgh), Mike Blair (Edinburgh); Allan Jacobsen (Edinburgh), Ross Ford (Edinburgh), Geoff Cross (Edinburgh), Jason White (Sale), Jim Hamilton (Edinburgh), Ally Hogg (Edinburgh), Simon Taylor (Stade Francais), John Barclay (Glasgow).
Replacements: Dougie Hall (Glasgow Warriors), Alasdair Dickinson (Gloucester), Kelly Brown (Glasgow Warriors), Scott Gray (Northampton Saints), Chris Cusiter (Perpignan), Chris Paterson (Edinburgh), Max Evans (Glasgow Warriors).

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see also
Scots need spirit of 1999
04 Feb 09 |  Scottish
Six Nations guide 2009 - Scotland
28 Jan 09 |  Rugby Union
Scotland call for rookie Jackson
20 Jan 09 |  Scottish
Hadden hopes exiled Scots return
28 Jan 09 |  Scottish
Scotland 41-0 Canada
22 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union

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