EDINBURGH’S Australian-born No 8 Nick Haining has been handed his Scotland debut in a new-look side for Saturday’s Six Nations opener against Ireland in Dublin. He will line up in the back row alongside his capital club team-mates Hamish Watson and Jamie Ritchie. With Magnus Bradbury missing out due to a thigh strain (he is expected to be fit to play against England next week), Cornell du Preez is on the bench.
There are 10 changes in total to the starting XV from Scotland’s last match, when they lost to Japan in their final pool outing at the 2019 World Cup.
Scott Cummings starts in the second row alongside his Glasgow Warriors club mate Jonny Gray, with Ben Toolis on the bench, meaning there is no Grant Gilchrist.
Hooker Fraser Brown retains his place, with Zander Fagerson and Rory Sutherland (making his first appearance since the summer of 2016) as his props.
Captain Stuart Hogg and Sam Johnson are the only players retained in the back division. Ali Price is preferred to George Horne at scrum-half, Adam Hastings is at stand-off in place of the exiled Finn Russell, and Huw Jones returns to outside centre after missing out on selection for the World Cup. Sean Maitland and Blair Kinghorn are on the wings.
“We have managed to cover a lot of work in the two weeks we’ve been together and we’ve been impressed with how our players have taken on information and bonded as a team,” said head coach Gregor Townsend. “Our goal is always to play to our potential. The challenge to do this starts on Saturday against Ireland.
“Playing to our potential starts with our collective mindset. That means being alert, focussed and resilient right from the beginning, to be ready for the physical battle that lies ahead and able to stay in the fight throughout the 80 minutes.
“We must be a relentless collective on the pitch and a nightmare for the Irish to deal with, while having the ability and awareness to impose our game at that intensity.”
“As coaches, we put frameworks together and create an environment for them to thrive and reach their potential but ultimately it’s the players who go out and deliver. We’re looking forward to seeing them play in Dublin.”
Scotland (v Ireland at Aviva Stadium, Saturday 4.45pm): S Hogg; S Maitland, H Jones, S Johnson, B Kinghorn; A Hastings, A Price; R Sutherland, F Brown, Z Fagerson, S Cummings, J Gray J Ritchie, H Watson, N Haining. Subs: S McInally, A Dell, S Berghan, B Toolis, C du Preez, G Horne, R Hutchinson, C Harris.
Ireland: J Larmour; A Conway, G Ringrose, B Aki, J Stockdale; J Sexton, C Murray; C Healy, R Herring, T Furlong, I Henderson, J Ryan, C Stander, J van der Flier, C Doris. Subs: R Kelleher, D Kilcoyne, A Porter, D Toner, P O’Mahony, J Cooney, R Byrne, R Henshaw.