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Russell rewarded for his bench brilliance

Finn Russell, the Warriors rookie, has been selected ahead of Scotland internationalist Ruaridh Jackson to fill the Glasgow Warriors No.10 shirt in tomorrow's league encounter with Newport-Gwent Dragons.

Finn Russell will take the No.10 shirt tomorrow, moving Ruaridh Jackson to full-back on his return from the Scotland squad. Picture: SNS
Finn Russell will take the No.10 shirt tomorrow, moving Ruaridh Jackson to full-back on his return from the Scotland squad. Picture: SNS

Jackson, omitted from the Scotland 23 in Rome - his clubmate Duncan Weir starts in the No.10 shirt again - has been switched to full-back for the bid to secure an eighth successive away win.

Russell is rewarded by coach Gregor Townsend for his brilliant display when he came off the bench at Cardiff last week, which spurred the Warriors to an important victory.

Townsend is also thrilled to welcome back the prop Mike Cusack from the long-term injury list. "Mike has worked extremely hard to get back fit and has been training really well," he said. "It's great news for the club that he can now return to action at a crucial period of the season.

"We were really pleased to win at the Arms Park and there were plenty of positives which we can take to Rodney Parade. Dragons have already beaten us at home this season, so we know how big a challenge we face down there. They are a well organised team and are tough to play against; they also have a very good home record, having only lost twice since last March."

Townsend has made a total of six changes to the side which started last weekend's 27-20 win away to Cardiff Blues. While Jackson moves to full-back, Niko Matawalu switches to scrum-half, Henry Pyrgos is on the bench and Mark Bennett and Richie Vernon continue in the centres.

Cusack returns at tight-head, Jerry Yanuyanutawa replaces Gordon Reid at loose-head and Dougie Hall starts at hooker, in place of the injured Pat MacArthur. Jonny Gray, left out of Scotland's plans for the game in Rome, comes into the second-row for Tom Ryder to partner the Fijian Leone Nakarawa, and the back row is unchanged.

Townsend's Edinburgh counterpart, Alan Solomons, gave a vote of confidence to his players despite their narrow loss away to Connacht last weekend. The coach wants them to make amends by clicking into gear against the Scarlets in Llanelli today.

"We made a rod for our own back against Connacht," Solomons said. "A consequence of not playing for a month and fielding new combinations was that we made too many unforced errors and consequently were unable to attain field position in the second half. Overall I'm happy with how we've reacted and trained this week. I'm happy with the direction in which these guys are going but we always have to be introspective, and cut our error rate."

Solomons added: "It will be a tough assignment because the Scarlets are a well-balanced and organised side that's been together for some time - and that makes a big difference. The more this team practise and play together the more cohesive we will become. If we can keep our momentum of improving I think this team will continue to come together well."

Olly Barkley, the former England stand-off, is in line to make his debut for the home side.

Simon Easterby, the Scarlets coach, said: "Olly brings a lot of experience to our squad both from his distinguished Test and club career.

"He adds much needed cover for us as we have so many players unavailable during the international call-ups as well as some long-term injuries in midfield."

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