Head coach Gregor Townsend believes Blair Kinghorn has earned the chance to be picked at fly-half for Scotland’s final match of the 2022 Guinness Six Nations against Ireland on Super Saturday.
Kinghorn is set to make his first start in this year’s Championship after being preferred to Finn Russell at No.10 for the clash at the Aviva Stadium.
The 25-year-old’s only previous Test start at fly-half came against Tonga during the Autumn Nations Series, with his previous appearances for the Scots all coming either at full-back or on the wing.
Townsend, however, believes the Edinburgh Rugby man can handle the playmaking responsibilities in Dublin, a city where Scotland have not tasted victory since the 2010 Six Nations.
“It’s an opportunity for Blair based on how well he has played this season and also how well he’s playing in our environment,” said Townsend.
“He played at 10 for us against Tonga and has built on that performance with his club side and, off the bench, in the France and Wales games I thought he performed well.
“His last game for Edinburgh [against Connacht] was probably his best game of the season, so we feel the time is right for Blair to start at 10 and it’s great to have the experience and ability of Finn off the bench as well.”
It has been an up-and-down Championship for Scotland, who started with a thrilling victory against England but were brought back down to earth by defeats against Wales and France.
They returned to winning ways by defeating Italy 33-22 at the Stadio Olimpico in Round 4, but there were still some frustrations at the end after conceding two late tries in Rome that allowed their hosts to close the gap.
Townsend knows the Scots will have to be on their mettle to have a chance of defeating Ireland, who themselves need victory to keep their hopes of winning Rugby’s Greatest Championship alive.
He said: “Cohesion is important – it’s something our opposition have in spades, they’re a very cohesive team.
“We’ve now been together six, seven weeks, we have the confidence of a win, but we know our performance wasn’t at the level we expect from ourselves and the level we will have to be this week to get that win.
“They play ambitious rugby, allied to a very good detail around the set-piece, the contact.
“They’ve got some very good individuals and they’re full of confidence.
“We’ve got to put them under pressure, we’ve got to take the game to them and we’ve got to deliver our best performance of the season to come away with the victory.”