Rugby Union

Alex Dunbar is back in Scotland's starting XV.

Alex Dunbar recalled by Scotland after long injury absence

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Centre Alex Dunbar will make his first appearance in a Scotland shirt in more than a year after being named in Vern Cotter's starting XV for Sunday's RBS 6 Nations match against France.

The Glasgow back ruptured knee ligaments on the eve of last year's championship clash with England and has not featured since as his comeback was hampered by a series of niggly injuries.

But he has earned himself a recall after some impressive displays for his club side and is one of two changes to the side which beat Italy in Rome a fortnight ago, with number eight Josh Strauss replacing Ryan Wilson in the pack.

Surprisingly dropping out to make way for Dunbar, though, is Mark Bennett.

Cotter, though, will hope to combat Les Bleus' huge physical threat by pairing 16-stone Dunbar with Duncan Taylor in the midfield as his side look to register their first win over the French in 10 years.

The Scotland head coach said: "It's great to be back at home after a good win on the road. The players are really looking forward to putting in a top performance at BT Murrayfield this weekend.

"The win in Rome was a reward for the hard work the players have put in to the championship so far, but the hard work never stops. We must be relentless.

"We're expecting the French to be physical. They have a culture of trying to dominate their opposition. They are confrontational and will try to keep the ball alive, so we will have to put in a great defensive performance.

"They also have the ability to channel their power through their set-piece, though that is a challenge our pack in particular are relishing, having put in some impressive performances of their own so far.

"We're looking forward to varying our game, holding the ball and striving to score at every opportunity.

"Work-rate and concentration will be key, and a sustained effort for 80 minutes will be very important."

Scotland are otherwise unchanged, meaning stand-off Finn Russell partners captain Greig Laidlaw in the half-backs, with the scrum-half winning his 50th cap.

It will also be Laidlaw's 25th outing as skipper, meaning he will equal former prop David Sole's record for the most appearances as Scotland's captain.

The back division is completed by full-back Stuart Hogg and wings Tim Visser and Tommy Seymour in the back three.

For the sixth successive Test match, the Edinburgh front-row of Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford and Willem Nel pack down with brothers Jonny and Richie Gray at lock, while John Hardie and John Barclay - try scorers in the 36-20 win over the Azzurri - return to partner Strauss in the loose forwards.

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