Townsend picks Kinghorn over Russell at fly-half for Scotland’s trip to Ireland

Blair Kinghorn 12/2/2022
Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has selected Blair Kinghorn at fly-half in place of Finn Russell in one of two changes for the trip to face Ireland in Round 5.

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has selected Blair Kinghorn at fly-half in place of Finn Russell in one of two changes for the trip to face Ireland in Round 5.

Kinghorn missed out on the matchday 23 for the 33-22 win over Italy last weekend due to personal reasons but after some impressive performances for Edinburgh is rewarded with the No.10 shirt at the Aviva Stadium as Racing 92 stand-off Russell drops to the bench.

In the other change, Jonny Gray returns to the second row where he replaces his Exeter Chiefs teammate Sam Skinner, who is selected among the replacements for the second instalment of Super Saturday.

Townsend said: “It’s an opportunity for Blair based on how well he has played this season and how well he has trained in our environment.

“He played 10 for us against Tonga and he has built on that performance with his club side. We thought he performed well off the bench against France and Wales and his last game for Edinburgh was probably his best game of the season, so we feel the time is right for Blair to start at 10.

“It’s great to have the experience and ability of Finn on the bench as well.”

Gray returns to the engine room to partner vice captain Grant Gilchrist having recovered from an ankle injury that was initially expected to rule the 28-year-old out of the entire Championship.

Townsend added: “He’s recovered very well. Last week he trained with us, not full contact, but did do a lot of the session Thursday.

“He showed in that session and this week that he’s hungry to get back into the squad, hungry to play and take the game to Ireland.”

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Townsend has also selected the experienced hooker Fraser Brown on the bench along with Bath back row Josh Bayliss, who is set for his first appearance of the 2022 Guinness Six Nations.

Backs Ben White and Mark Bennett return to the matchday squad after missing out on the trip to Rome, with Scotland aiming to prevent Andy Farrell’s side from claiming their first Triple Crown since 2018 on Saturday.

Stuart Hogg once again captains the side from full-back and flanker Hamish Watson will earn his 49th cap with Scotland able to finish third if they win and other results go their way.

Scotland team to play Ireland: 15. Stuart Hogg – Exeter Chiefs – (Captain) – 92 caps 14. Darcy Graham – Edinburgh Rugby – 26 caps 13. Chris Harris – Gloucester Rugby – (Vice-Captain) – 35 caps 12. Sam Johnson – Glasgow Warriors – 23 caps 11. Kyle Steyn – Glasgow Warriors – 4 caps 10. Blair Kinghorn – Edinburgh Rugby – 30 caps 9. Ali Price – Glasgow Warriors – 50 caps

1. Pierre Schoeman – Edinburgh Rugby – 8 caps 2. George Turner – Glasgow Warriors – 24 caps 3. Zander Fagerson – Glasgow Warriors – 46 caps 4. Jonny Gray – Exeter Chiefs – 66 caps 5. Grant Gilchrist – Edinburgh Rugby – (Vice-Captain) – 52 caps 6. Rory Darge – Glasgow Warriors – 3 caps 7. Hamish Watson – Edinburgh Rugby – 48 caps 8. Matt Fagerson – Glasgow Warriors – 20 caps

Replacements: 16. Fraser Brown – Glasgow Warriors – 54 caps 17. Allan Dell – London Irish – 33 caps 18. WP Nel – Edinburgh Rugby – 47 caps 19. Sam Skinner – Exeter Chiefs – 19 caps 20. Josh Bayliss – Bath Rugby – 2 caps 21. Ben White – London Irish – 3 caps 22. Finn Russell – Racing 92 – 62 caps 23. Mark Bennett – Edinburgh Rugby – 23 caps