COUNTY-BORN rugby star Huw Jones will return to the Scotland starting line-up for the first time in more than a year against Italy tomorrow (Saturday).

Musselburgh-born Jones is among seven changes made by head coach Gregor Townsend as Scotland look to bounce back from defeats to Wales and Ireland.

The 27-year-old replaces Chris Harris at outside centre and will partner his Glasgow Warriors team-mate Sam Johnson in the midfield, with captain Stuart Hogg moving to stand-off for the first time in his international career in the absence of the injured Finn Russell.

Jones' recall comes after stepping off the bench in matches against England, Wales and Ireland in this year's Six Nations.

The most recent appearance saw him put in a try-scoring performance in the 27-24 defeat to Ireland on Sunday, and Townsend explained more yesterday (Thursday).

He said: “Huw has earned his right by his performances at 13 for Glasgow and his impact off the bench.

“We’re also managing resources a bit there, with Chris having played a lot of rugby for us, but we’re keen to see how Huw goes alongside Sam [Johnson] and with Stuart [Hogg] at 10.”

Townsend also defended Italy’s position in the championship amid calls for them to be replaced, with the Azzuri having not won a match since their 19-22 win at BT Murrayfield six years ago.

“I think they’ve been a fantastic addition to the Championship,” Townsend said.

“I believe they are playing some of the most attractive rugby in the tournament.

“Yes, they’ve not won a game yet but they’re playing with ambition.”

Scotland were 17-0 winners at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome last February.

It has also been confirmed that Scotland will travel to France next Friday (March 26) to wrap up this year’s competition.

The two countries had been due to face off against one another on February 28 but the game was postponed due to a coronavirus outbreak in the French camp.