SCOTLAND head coach Gregor Townsend knows if his side are to secure their second win of the Six Nations this weekend, they are going to have to be ready to fight, fight and fight some more.

The Scots host France at Murrayfield on Sunday and with the visitors on track for the grand slam having won all three of their matches so far in the tournament, there will be no lack of motivation from Fabien Galthie’s men.

And so Townsend knows he must prepare his side for an almighty battle, with physicality likely to be a key component of the fixture.

“France have always based their game, club and international, on the combat, the fight,” said Townsend.

“They see the set-piece and the physical side as keys to victory and they get a huge amount of momentum and psychological advantage if a scrum goes forward for them.

“They are excellent team, there’s no two ways about it, with very good individuals.”

Townsend has made three changes to his side that will face France this weekend from Scotland’s victory over Italy, with Nick Haining poised to make his second start of the campaign, replacing Magnus Bradbury at number 8 and Grant Gilchrist coming back into the back-row, while Fraser Brown is promoted from the bench and will captain his side in what will be his fiftieth cap.

Duncan Weir, who was called into the squad after Finn Russell’s departure, is set to win his first cap under Townsend, with the stand-off having last played for Scotland in 2017.

Weir has been performing impressively for his club side, Worcester Warriors in the English Premiership, this season and his selection is just reward for that.

Townsend admits he has been hugely impressed by the 28-year-old in recent times, and is optimistic that he will make a positive contribution at Murrayfield.

“Duncan's not the biggest guy in our back line but he punches his weight in defence. He's really fit so last year he was getting a few tries through support lines and just being there at the right time,” Townsend said.

“He’s playing really good rugby and he's been doing that regularly for Worcester for the last couple of seasons.

“He's definitely matured as a player and added other elements to his game. We know that we'll have different stand-offs, one starting and one on the bench so that if we do have to change the game and Duncan had to come on he'll be able to execute that really well.”

Haining is another who has impressed Townsend in recent week, with the head coach confident that despite the `Edinburgh number eight’s lack of experience, he will comfortably handle the pressure France will exert on Scotland.

“Nick Haining came in and did a very good job for us in Dublin on his first cap, then Magnus (Bradbury) became available again after that and started the next two games.

“But we gave Nick some feedback on what more we want from him and the two games since then from Edinburgh he has shown that he has taken that on board.

“His work-rate has gone up in both attack and defence. The more he players, the better he looks, so we fell he is right the right call for this game.

“France have kicked a lot in the first two games so you have a picture of how you expect them to play, and Nick started off as a back-line player so is very comfortable in the back-field and that is one strength we believe he can show at the weekend.”

Since Galthie became France head coach, there has been an obvious change in their playing style, with far fewer risks being taken than previously. Townsend is familiar with the French coach having played in France at the same time as Galthie and knowing what he does about the 50-year-old, he is certain he will have imposed his competitive spirit on the current international squad.

“I was his halfback partner for his last ever game of rugby, the French Baa-Baas against Australia,” recalled Townsend.

And I played against Fabien, he was a tough competitor. I remember a quarter-final for Castres against Colomiers and they had a really good team. Fabien is a really lovely guy off the field but on it he’s a real competitor, and I’m sure he coaches that way too.

“But we’ve remained friends over the years, whether he’s been coaching with other teams – he had a spell with Argentina as a consultant – and I’ve seen him around games when he’s been doing TV commentary. He’s obviously made a big impact on the French team now.”

France’s junior teams have been nothing short of outstanding in recent years, winning the past two editions of the under-20 World Cup. And so it was, only a matter of time before those players began to transition into the senior side, with that talent beginning to make a real name for itself now.

“(Antoine)Dupont has been there for a while - he had a bad injury a couple of years ago, but he’s been a class act since he broke through at under-20s,” said Townsend.

“(Romain) Ntamack is playing with a team that plays really positive rugby and had a lot of success in the last couple of years, and they’ve built that cohesion and understanding as half-back partners which can really be valuable at Test level.

“The expectation around France has always been really high from other teams because of what they’ve been doing at Under-20 level and their Top 14 has got some fantastic players playing week-in and week-out. So, as rival coaches, it was probably a matter of when they would reproduce that at Test level, and we are starting to see that now.”