NICK Tompkins is already banged up but desperate to make an impression.

The 25-year-old starts at inside centre at Murrayfield this evening needing to grab his opportunity in an increasingly crowded Welsh midfield.

Tompkins is at 12, Owen Watkin is at 13 and Willis Halaholo is poised to make his Test debut from the bench after being called up this week.

It’s a case of last men standing for Scotland but it promises to be different for England in round three of the Six Nations with Lions centre Jonathan Davies, in-form George North and impressive autumn performer Johnny Williams set to be fit.

Tompkins came on for Williams in the first half against Ireland at Principality Stadium and carried on despite a shoulder blow, partly through necessity.

“I think I was playing with one arm at one point, it was a weird game,” he said. “A lot of players picked up knocks in the game, we got through it and got the win.

“A couple of boys took knocks but we’re all ready to go. This is what rugby is about at international level. We’ll crack on.”

Western Telegraph:

It will be cap number 10 today for Tompkins, who is spending the season on loan at the Dragons from Saracens to stay in the Test mix.

This time last year he was poised for a first international start after starring off the bench against Italy. He started against Ireland, France and England.

“I have not seen a debut Six Nations tournament like that from a midfielder for a long time,” said fellow Dragons new boy Jamie Roberts.

The autumn didn’t quite go to plan – he missed out on the 23 against the Irish and Italians – but Tompkins has his foot back in the door and wants to keep growing with experience on the Test scene.

“You never get used to the buzz and the hype around it too much.

“The more I play and the more I get used to the system and the players… it’s been good,” said Tompkins, who is used to the top level of club rugby thanks to his exploits at Sarries.

“Every training session is a chance to build those relationships which I need and want. I’m enjoying it and I want to keep pushing. There have been ups and downs and I want to keep getting better.”

Western Telegraph:

Tompkins is under pressure for a starting spot but hopes to be able to ensure boss Wayne Pivac is using the adage of not changing a winning team.

They face a Scotland team who ended an 18-year drought in Wales with a 14-10 win in Llanelli in October and who are on a high after their stunning win against England at Twickenham.

The Saracens man saw a Saracens-like display from the Scots in London.

“They’re riding really high after the England win so it’s going to be a big one,” said Tompkins.

“I thought they showed a lot of fight. What was impressive for me was the aerial battle – they took it to England. They really competed hard.

“I know Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg were very good. They do a lot of hard graft which is a massive area for them.

“They showed a lot of grit and fight for the things a lot of people don’t enjoy doing or the special stuff. That’s what I was impressed with.”

Tompkins is joined in the starting line-up by Dragons teammate Aaron Wainwright, who was promoted from the bench to play blindside flanker after Josh Macleod’s midweek injury misfortune.

Hooker Elliot Dee and tighthead Leon Brown are among the replacements along with lock Will Rowlands, who is swapping Wasps for Rodney Parade next season.