There are seven personnel changes to the side which dismantled Argentina in the final autumn Test. The headlines in the backs are the return of Huw Jones, who will partner his Glasgow Warriors team-mate Sione Tuipulotu in the centre; Kyle Steyn come in on the wing for the injured Darcy Graham; and Ben White is picked at scrum-half, with Ali Price not even on the bench. George Horne is the substitute scrum-half.
Jones and Tuipulotu have combined well for Glasgow this season, most notably in the home win over URC champions the Stormers, but the absence of long-time Townsend favourite Chris Harris is a surprise. Harris has to be content with a place on the bench.
Price is another glaring omission. The Glasgow No 9 has been a Scotland mainstay since the last World Cup.
Stuart Hogg and Duhan van der Merwe are both fit to start after heel and ankle injuries, respectively, and Finn Russell is at stand-off.
In the pack, Zander Fagerson doesn’t make the squad after his recent hamstring injury and WP Nel starts at tighthead, with Simon Berghan on the bench. George Turner gets the nod at hooker ahead of his Warriors club-mate Fraser Brown, who is among the replacements. Pierre Schoeman is starting loosehead with Jamie Bhatti as cover.
As expected, Richie Gray and Grant Gilchrist are partnered in the second row. The match has come too soon for Hamish Watson who made his comeback for Edinburgh last weekend but is not included in Townsend’s squad. The openside flanker suffered a concussion against New Zealand on November 13. His place in the back row goes to his on-form Edinburgh colleague Luke Crosbie. Jamie Ritchie captains the side at six and Matt Fagerson is at No.8.
England will name their team later today.
Scotland team (v England, Guinness Six Nations, Twickenham, Saturday, 4.45pm. TV: live on STV and ITV:
15. Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs) 96 caps
14. Kyle Steyn (Glasgow Warriors) 5 caps
13. Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors) 31 caps
12. Sione Tuipulotu (Glasgow Warriors) 11 caps
11. Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh Rugby) 23 caps
10. Finn Russell (Racing 92) 65 caps
9. Ben White (London Irish) 9 caps
1. Pierre Schoeman (Edinburgh Rugby) 16 caps
2. George Turner (Glasgow Warriors) 30 caps
3. WP Nel (Edinburgh Rugby) 50 caps
4. Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors) 69 caps
5. Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby) - Vice Captain - 59 caps
6. Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh Rugby) - Captain - 36 caps
7. Luke Crosbie (Edinburgh Rugby) 2 caps
8. Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) 28 caps
16. Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) 57 caps
17. Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors) 25 caps
18. Simon Berghan (Glasgow Warriors) 31 caps
19. Jonny Gray (Exeter Chiefs) 72 caps
20. Jack Dempsey (Glasgow Warriors) 4 caps
21. George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) 18 caps
22. Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Rugby) 38 caps
23. Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby) 39 caps