Kelly Brown, the Saracens forward who led Scotland into the RBS 6 Nations Championship but was dropped from the squad after one game, has returned to the national fold and will captain the side against France at Murrayfield on Saturday.

It is a staggering turnaround in the fortunes of the 61-times-capped 31-year-old as many believed his international career had ended when the interim head coach, Scott Johnson, jettisoned him in the wake of Scotland's 28-6 defeat by Ireland on the opening weekend.

Yesterday, however, Johnson distanced himself from that speculation, explaining that Brown's club form and the particular demands of playing against France had persuaded him the player deserved a recall even in the wake of the victory against Italy 10 days ago.

Loading article content

"It's not a change of heart," said Johnson. "I never said Kelly's career was over. I felt this was a better fit. I thought Chris [Fusaro, the Glasgow flanker who makes way for Brown] had done well in areas of the game and was picked for certain reasons and did that, but got exposed in a couple of things too. This is a good fit.

"The French team play the game a bit off the ground and with Kelly's skill set he has done a lot of good things. Just because we won doesn't mean we shouldn't be looking at changing the team. He is a better fit for this team, this game."

Johnson went out of his way to praise Brown's character, suggesting his widely criticised decision to leave him out of the side to face England last month was one of the hardest selection choices he had had to make.

"It would rank up there because of the admiration I have for him as a human being," said the coach. "I take solace from the fact I am trying to do the best for Scotland as well. I want to look him in the eye and say I made the decision I felt was in the best interests of Scotland. You don't always get it right."

Elsewhere in the starting line-up. Geoff Cross takes over from Moray Low in the front row while Dave Denton takes over in the back row from Ryan Wilson, who has had a throat complaint.