TIGHT-HEAD prop WP Nel, blindside flanker Jamie Ritchie, winger Sean Maitland and inside-centre Sam Johnson have returned to Scotland’s starting XV for Sunday’s Six Nations round four clash against Ireland at Murrayfield.
Simon Berghan and Jamie Bhatti are named as replacement props, alongside second-row Grant Gilchrist and back-row Nick Haining, with hooker David Cherry the only forward replacement to have seen previous action in this championship. Sam Skinner has been released back to play for Exeter Chiefs against Harlequins tomorrow.
Scott Steele, Huw Jones and Darcy Graham are the back replacements, which suggests captain Stuart Hogg will be back-up stand-off should Finn Russell have to go off for some reason.
“We are well aware of the threats posed by an experienced Ireland squad and our players have prepared for a contest they know is going to require one of their best performances,” said head coach Gregor Townsend.
“We had prepared well for our postponed game against France, and the players have adapted well to the change of plans and have brought real energy and focus to our training sessions this week.”
“Playing Ireland is always a physical affair and one that demands you keep stepping up to make tackles or contest for possession. They have played well in their opening three games of the Championship and have some outstanding players in their squad. It should be a cracking game.”
Scotland (v Ireland on Sunday, at Murrayfield Stadium, kick-off 3pm GMT): S Hogg©; S Maitland, C Harris, S Johnson, D van der Merwe; F Russell, A Price; R Sutherland, G Turner, W Nel, S Cummings, J Gray, J Ritchie, H Watson, M Fagerson. Substitutes: D Cherry, J Bhatti, S Berghan, G Gilchrist, N Haining, S Steele, H Jones, D Graham.
Ireland: H Keenan; K Earls, G Ringrose, R Henshaw, J Lowe; J Sexton©, J Gibson-Park; C Healy, R Herring, T Furlong, I Henderson, J Ryan, T Beirne, W Connors, C Stander. Substitutes: R Kelleher, D Kilcoyne, A Porter, R Baird, J Conan, C Murray, B Burns, J Larmour.
Referee: Romain Poite (France)