Scotland welcome Bennett fitness boost

11:00 AM GMT

Scotland’s Mark Bennett has a “good chance” of featuring in the Six Nations opener against England on Saturday after the centre returned to training.

The Glasgow Warrior, who turns 23 on Wednesday, suffered a shoulder injury in his side’s Champions Cup defeat last month but was able to take part in contact work on Monday.

“It’s his first day in terms of contact, so he’s back in the mix,” Scotland assistant coach Matt Taylor said. “I think he has a good chance but he’ll have to put his best foot forward.

“A fully-fit Bennett is a very good player. There is a reason he played so well in the World Cup, so it is great he is back in the mix.”

Bennett has been one of the stand-out performers in head coach Vern Cotter’s new-look Scotland side, scoring six tries in 13 Tests — including one in the narrow defeat by Australia in last year’s Rugby World Cup quarterfinal.

Edinburgh’s Matt Scott is likely to start at inside centre, leaving Bennett to compete with Saracens’ Duncan Taylor for the No. 13 role against England at Murrayfield.

Scotland have been picking the brains of Taylor on what to expect from England’s defence under Eddie Jones’ fledgling regime, with the Red Rose’s new assistant coach Paul Gustard set to bring his much-vaunted ‘wolf-pack’ approach from Saracens to the national side.

“I think Duncan is caught between a rock and a hard place,” Taylor said. “He feels like he has been giving out all this information on how Saracens, and now England, are defending. That is hard when there are other guys in our group from the likes of Gloucester and Bath who can benefit.

“But that is international rugby. We have been talking about how they defend and Duncan gives us an insight into what to expect. But we will be trying to concentrate on what we do.”

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