GREGOR Townsend last night praised the big-game skills of Duncan Weir and said he would be surprised if Scott Johnson, the national coach, does not retain him for Saturday's Calcutta Cup match at Murrayfield.

The Glasgow coach insisted it would be a negative move if Stuart Hogg is switched to the playmakers' role, as has been demanded in some quarters. "I thought Duncan played very well in Dublin last weekend," said Townsend. "He hadn't started for us for a couple of weeks - so to go into that environment and perform so solidly is testament to the work he has been putting in. He has a really good game which he can build on."

Turning to Hogg, Townsend added: "He was excellent for Glasgow at Exeter and then against Toulon up here. And he had a superb game in Dublin - one of the best players over the three Six Nations matches. It was good to see him getting involved so much and looking so fit and breaking tackles. Stuart has really good basic skills and gets lots of opportunites at 15 - actually, full-backs now touch the ball the second most outside of stand-off. He is getting up and is filling the role of second and first receiver, so when he's playing really well at full-back, why would you change that?"

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On Scotland's chances of recovering from the defeat by the Irish, Townsend added: "All the Scottish guys will have the desire to bounce back quickly. We showed in the first half at the Aviva Stadium that we could attack and defend with aggression. We can go up against the best teams in the championship - it is all about taking the opportunities and keeping up the level for 80 minutes.

"You don't get any greater motivation than playing against England, and especially playing them at home. I think it will be a cracking game."