Uncapped Haining starts and Jones recalled as Scotland team named

Gregor Townsend has urged his Scotland team to be a “nightmare” for Ireland in their Guinness Six Nations opener this weekend, after naming his matchday 23.

Gregor Townsend has urged his Scotland team to be a “nightmare” for Ireland in their Guinness Six Nations opener this weekend, after naming his matchday 23.

Uncapped Nick Haining starts at No.8 – where he will face off with Ireland’s uncapped No.8 Caelan Doris – as part of an all-Edinburgh back row alongside fit-again Hamish Watson and Jamie Ritchie, with Magnus Bradbury missing out due to a thigh strain.

Huw Jones is recalled to start in the centres alongside Sam Johnson after not being selected for last autumn’s World Cup, while new captain Stuart Hogg forms an explosive back-three with Sean Maitland and Blair Kinghorn.

Ali Price and Adam Hastings are the half-backs, with Greig Laidlaw now retired and Finn Russell not considered for selection due to a breach of team protocol, while Scott Cummings will make his first Guinness Six Nations appearance in the second row and Fraser Brown gets the nod over Stuart McInally at hooker.

Scotland’s last victory on Irish soil came ten years ago, while Ireland have lost just one Championship home match in the last five years, but head coach Townsend believes his team are ready to go.

​“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 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 team to play Ireland in Dublin – Saturday 1 February (kick-off 4.45pm):

15. Stuart Hogg (c) (Exeter Chiefs) – 72 caps 14. Sean Maitland (Saracens) – 44 caps 13. Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors) – 23 caps 12. Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors) – 9 caps 11. Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh) – 17 caps 10. Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors) – 16 caps 9. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) – 28 caps

1. Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh) – 3 caps 2. Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) – 46 caps 3. Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) – 25 caps 4. Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors) – 8 caps 5. Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors) – 55 caps 6. Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh) – 14 caps 7. Hamish Watson (Edinburgh) – 28 caps 8. Nick Haining (Edinburgh) – uncapped

Replacements: 16. Stuart McInally (Edinburgh) – 33 caps 17. Allan Dell (London Irish) – 28 caps 18. Simon Berghan (Edinburgh) – 24 caps 19. Ben Toolis (Edinburgh) – 22 caps 20. Cornell du Preez (Worcester Warriors) – 6 caps 21. George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) – 10 caps 22. Rory Hutchinson (Northampton Saints) – 3 caps 23. Chris Harris (Gloucester) – 14 caps