2019 6N: Scotland vs Ireland teams

Even without WP Nel, Scotland will send an all-Edinburgh front row out to face Ireland at BT Murrayfield on Saturday.

Alongside Nel’s deputy Simon Berghan, Jonny Gray and Josh Strauss are two more of the 4 changes to the starting XV, meaning the front 5 unit is no longer all from the capital side.

The only change in the back-line is player of the round Blair Kinghorn making way for fit again Sean Maitland on the wing, to restore what has been Scotland’s go-to unit in recent years.

If Sam Johnson can cement himself in the 12 shirt over the next few games this could well be the backs group we’ll see in the World Cup, with the possible exception of the replacement scrum half slot – still the subject of much debate.

Pete Horne, Fraser Brown and Rob Harley bring welcome experience to the bench and D’Arcy Rae comes in as replacement tighthead.

Scotland: Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Huw Jones, Sam Johnson, Sean Maitland, Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw (capt); Allan Dell, Stuart McInally, Simon Berghan, Grant Gilchrist, Jonny Gray, Ryan Wilson, Jamie Ritchie, Josh Strauss.
Replacements: Fraser Brown, Jamie Bhatti, D’Arcy Rae, Ben Toolis, Rob Harley, Ali Price, Pete Horne, Blair Kinghorn.

Ireland: Rob Kearney, Keith Earls, Chris Farrell, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale, Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Rory Best (capt), Tadhg Furlong, James Ryan, Quinn Roux, Peter O’Mahony, Sean O’Brien, Jack Conan.
Replacements: Sean Cronin, Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, Ultan Dillane, Josh van der Flier, John Cooney, Joey Carbery, Jordan Larmour.

BT Murrayfield, 9th Feb 2019 (live on BBC)
KO: 2.15pm

Squad players unavailable through injury:
John Hardie (knee), George Horne (shoulder), Lee Jones (knee), WP Nel (calf), Sam Skinner (ankle).

PT II of Kevin’s full preview will follow tomorrow. You can read part I here.


Alan Kerr is a long time rugby lover and occasional player for Broughton FP RFC. Site co-founder Al prides himself on offering the "man on the bus" view of Scottish Rugby!

64 comments on “2019 6N: Scotland vs Ireland teams

  1. Fraser on

    Team is pretty much as predicted/leaked.

    I still think Kinghorn is very hard done by to be dropped, but Maitland adds a lot.
    Not sure how I feel about P.Horne on the bench over Hastings – would rather have a specialist 10 in case Russell gets injured.

    I guess G.Horne is out of favour at the moment as well – Price has had 1 decent game for Glasgow recently and Horne offers so much more off the bench.

    At least this seems to show Townsend has more or less settled on his team and some consistency will help a lot for the rest of the 6N and the world cup.

    • Southern Rob on

      George Horne is listed as injured in the team announcement on official website.

      Agree that Kinghorn is very hard done by but guess Toonie is looking at Maitland having better defensive positioning and that despite going off the boil offensively, Seymour is probably still our best player under the expected aerial bombardment.

      I actually like Pete Horne (maybe in the minority on here!), and think Hastings has dropped off his level lately – which all young players do at times – and it’s probably better for him and Scotland if he gets time to work out some of the flaws away from the limelight of a sold-out match against Ireland.

      • Fraser on

        I missed Horne being injured, thanks.

        I like P.Horne as well, but he isn’t really a 10. He can cover in a pinch (as can Laidlaw of course), but you wouldn’t want him playing a full game there, and I can’t see him making a positive impact at 10 in a tight game.

    • FF on

      G Horne is still listed as injured. As is Hardie.

      Hastings is still very green at this level and I don’t think would be an option to come on unless Russell was injured. Horne has come on as a sub before and had an impact, he can bring good energy. Just have to hope Russell isn’t crocked early on.

      I think the bench looks much stronger than last week, although not sure about Harley on the bench, who is more a workhorse than an impact player.

      • thebigiam on

        Fraser – I’m a Pete Horne fan as well, so there are a few of us. I think Horne can cover 10 – he’s just a bit hit-and-miss there as it isn’t his usual position. Remember, when we beat France in 2016, when Russell went off after about 5 minutes. Its a risk, but he might have one of those days…

  2. Stu2 on

    He’s dropped the wrong winger – but other than that no real surprises.

    Interesting to see the ginger ninja on the bench – he really does annoy the Irish.

  3. Referendum on

    Great squad. Few surprises as ever. Hardie is a miss but Ritchie deserved his place. Horne back makes it a much stronger bench especially in the backs replacements. Kinghorn hard done by but what an impact player.

    And Harley, was probably a choice between hardie and him. Big shock. Didn’t think he’d be back for a long time. But I’m delighted. Big player. Does loads of the unseen like Wilson and if we win Harleys impact will be the difference.

  4. Warks Scot on

    Saw that Hardie was listed as injured which made the back row selection easier for GT & not a bad starting pick. Kinghorn I’m sure will be disappointed but will surely get some game time. Perhaps Harris a bit aggrieved too – he & BK accounted for 80% of our trues last weekend – though can’t complain with P Horne on the bench. Should be a squad to compete at least.

    • SB on

      You can’t pick players on the basis of tries. Kinghorn had two walk ins and once nice break when Italy were completely on the ropes. He has been slightly off the boil for Edinburgh and his defensive game still needs improving.

      Maitland on the other hand has been in great form for Scotland and Sarries including a huge game in last season’s Premiership final. He is about as good a defender as there is on the wing and in a game where Ireland will look to dominate possession that is vital.

      • Stu2 on

        Aye good one – you mention form then talk about last years EPL final.

        Kinghorn’s walk ins were nothing of the sort.

        Seymour is the winger who should have lost out.

      • RuggersB on

        Agreed STu2…to call Kinghorn’s tries walk-ins is daft.
        He had to show a piece of skill in all of them.

  5. FF on

    Irish fans giving Chris Farrell seal of approval. its a physical back line that’s for sure but don’t know how much finesse it has.

      • Martin on

        Harsh – Farrell runs hard and straight but he has a great outside step and fend for a big man and is a surprisingly good distributor. I’ve seen a lot of him this year and I rate him higher than Aki and Henshaw (say last 4 months).

  6. Scrummo on

    Rae, Brown, Bhatti totalling 358kg is probably the heaviest front row we could put out so looking forward to seeing the Warriors front row closing the game out.

    In fact should Bhatti, Brown and Rae all get on and Harley replace Wilson we would be clocking in at just under 930kg for pack weight which is pretty massive.

  7. Checo on

    They’ll run hard and fast all day, basically a team to bludgeon a win. Keep the pens down, run them out of gas and we’ve got a great chance.

    Question is how much does Toonie want to play possession or territory.

    • Not rocket science on

      It’s got to be territory. Keep them pegged back and attack like a rapier. Less chance for intercepts and plays to attacking strengths. Our Ireland, Wales wins of two years ago were less possession I think.

  8. Busy Little Bee on

    Is Fraser Brown cover at 7? What if Ritchie gets injured early? Oh I see Hardie is listed as injured. Ritchie himself isn’t a true 7.

    Selection looks all right to me. Big fan of Kinghorn but all he did was score 3 tries and make tackles. Won 0 turnovers.

    Gary Graham may feel he’s been stitched up, played 5mins at the end of a then dead match and now he can’t play for anyone else he’s been dropped for Harley who really isn’t on anyone’s mind and well down the pecking order without the raft of back row injuries.

    • SB on

      Gary Graham is a player who is supposed to make a big defensive impact. Yet when he was on the field we lost two tries in 8 minutes.

      Not his fault alone but he didn’t display any strong qualities during our ropy period.

    • Stu2 on

      I am no fan of Harley, he’s a journeyman pro – but I can see the logic in his selection.

      The Irish hate playing against him – really hate him, he seems to get right under their skin.

      There is also the fact he’s better than Graham – but I agree, GG has been stitched up.

      • Not rocket science on

        Given squad, XV strong as possible.

        – LH and TH (albeit latter due to injury)
        – No no 8 on bench
        – Those criticising GT for playing a Lions tour top scorer solid under high ball, over a junior player (albeit one that provides dynamism from the bench)

        – 6,7,8
        – entire backline
        – Pete Horne as cover to 10 / 12
        – Rob Harley this season at Glasgow

      • Stevomc on

        Gary Graham hasn’t been stitched up! He has played 10 mins of rugby that I would want more than any other. It’s horses for courses, we need a squad, and he is going to be an important squad player.

  9. Rob on

    Ireland gone for heavy weight backs and back row. They are going to play tight which I bet is based on forecast of wind and rain.

  10. RuggersB on

    Not really any huge shocks to the selection. No Hardie ….but then he’s joined the injury list. Harley a bit of a surprise ….a player who despite his size ..always looks a bit powder puff to me…mind you..he is one of those players I barely notice in a match other than being decent in the lineout. I would rather have seen Gary Graham as next up.

    GT seems as loyal to Seymour as he is Wilson. I would have dropped Seymour to the bench replaced by Kinghorn…but then Kinghorn can play at a higher level in more positions than Seymour can.

    Wilson at 6, Ritchie at 7, Strauss at 8 ….showed a promising blend against Italy….not that there are many options for us left standing. Wilson a far better player at 6 than he is at 8 (mediocre at 8). Ireland have picked a big physical aggressive 6,7,8 combo…so they’ll have their work cut out.

    Thats a big heavy front row to come on if we are in the game with Ireland tiring…can see that GT wants to take them on physically for the whole match….so our backs have the best chance to show themselves.

    Overall …considering all the injuries that have piled up…its as good as we could hope for…imo

  11. TheSmidge on

    Team is pretty much as predicted and expected following murmurings out of the camp.

    The only genuine surprise is the reappearance of Harley, but I can understand it. With Hardie injured, the question was whether Gary Graham would be trusted as the only back row replacement, whether Swinson would bench at 19 and cover both rows, or A.N. Other option. The danger in the first option is his inexperience and underwhelming debut last week, albeit that 8 minutes to get up to speed with test rugby is a big ask. Selecting Swinson as potential cover for 6 leaves open the risk of both starting locks playing 80 mins like last week, with the late drop-off in intensity that we saw. Which left the third option, and I am not unhappy to BBB come in. The Irish loathe in, so that’s pretty much good enough for me.

    We need to excel in many areas of the game to win this one:

    1. Absolute discipline in the set-piece and breakdown, to prevent them gaining ground through penalties.

    2. Precision kick-chase and nullifying their threat by claiming lots of high balls early on.

    3. Constant pressure on their half-backs, which will throttle their expected game plan.

    4. High tackle completion rate.

    5. Take the chances we get. That’s what worked two years ago and built a lead.

    In addition, I expect to see some further tactical surprises and moves. The 1014 blog has highlighted some novelties and the low kicking game we saw last week is a possible sign of what’s to come. Toony likes a risk and he needs to take a few in order to win this one.

  12. Ńéíł on

    That looks likes the most defensively strong Ireland side i could think off, expecting a lot of crash balls up Johnson/Jones channels from Farrell.

    Disappointed the lump has been selected ahead of Toolis but hey-ho Townsend clearly is slightly biased towards Glasgow still.

    Maitland should have come in for Seymour not kinghorn i think, cant see Seymour breaking the Irish defense.

    Delighted to see the bench has been strengthened up considerably with the removal of our favourite newcastle amateurs Harris and Turncoat, he got his 10 minutes of gametime and it was probaly the most points we have conceded within an 10 minute period for a decade, Harley has earned a bench spot for his club form.

    • Scotty on

      Pretty sure “the lump” went 100 international tackles with none missed whereas Toolis missed three last week but, as you say, hey-ho

    • Busy Little Bee on

      Think that’s Gary Graham finished at international level, he’s had his shot and it hasn’t worked out. Time to move on and try someone else. Harley gets the chance to show what he’s got.

      • FF on

        He had 8minutes! Should at least get a shot against Georgia in warm up games. We don’t have enough depth to write people of for undistinguished debuts. Watson and Toolis were disaster subs last time we lost to Italy and both have come through.

      • Steven McHaffie on

        Really? This is just daft. Neither tries when he was in we’re in his part of the defensive line.

      • Scrummo on

        Mental stuff here.

        We don’t have enough 112kg ball pilfering, hard as nails, abrasive carrying backrows to write off someone after 8 minutes. Turncoat will get more caps.

  13. Big Al on

    I like Harley. He’s in good form for Glasgow and covers both second and back row. You don’t make 200 pro games for one club unless you’ve got something about you.

    It might be horses for courses with his selection as the Irish pro sides really do hate him. To me that means he’s really good as stopping them doing what they want to do and that’s what we need this weekend. Whether its in rucks slowing ball down, tackling ball carriers, nicking lineout ball or swimming through mauls he is the biggest pain in the arse we have fit.

    I thought he might have come straight in for this one to replace Skinner but I think Toony obviously likes what he saw from the back row last week.

  14. TheSamsquamtch on

    Not sure if anyone has seen it but Neil Francis article in the Irish independent should be read to each of the Scotland team as motivation. Apparently we are down to our 7th choice tighthead. Not sure policy on posting links but easy to find. Why are Irish pundits/ex players so insufferably arrogant and ill informed.

    Title of the article “Scotland aren’t very good now it is time for Ireland to show they are”

    • Virverax on

      Some quotes from the great man pasted in below:

      “Scotland were missing the Gray brothers for Saturday and had selected the lamentable Ben Toolis again and Grant Gilchrist – not exactly the meanest, toughest hombres ever to represent Scotland in the second-row.”

      “The Scots have lost highly-rated scrummager WP Nel and will be on their sixth or seventh-choice tighthead. It can be a foundation stone for a recovery victory.”

      “It was hard to gauge how good or bad Scotland are because Italy were bad beyond words and only putting 38 points on a team as bad as Italy showed Scotland’s limitations.”

      “Scotland do not have anything close to the sort of fire-power England have and I figure that our halves and back-three won’t play that badly again.”

      He makes the English press look balanced and fair….

      • Referendum on

        Not only is it as classy as Neil with some of his wonderfully insightful grim unveiled jibes, but it is inaccurate, uninformed nonsense. Has he watched Edinburgh at all in Europe with the lamentable locks driving the machine forward. He deserves to be shown the door after this piece and never given a job again both in the mainstream journalism and the social media side too. As bad as O’Gara’s classless statement before 2017’s games. Be great to have a result that can have this thrown where it is deserved to be thrown.

      • Alanyst on

        I don’t know why anyone expects anything other than one-eyed parochialism from the Irish press…its not exactly a new phenomenon.

  15. Alastair Kennedy on

    Not sure that Gary Graham is finished as most assume. It makes sense to have Harley in there on the bench as he can cover back row and lock. GG cannot do that. But he is a young man and he should have plenty of other opportunities to prove himself. Remember when Hamish Watson was in and out of the team – by no means first choice at 7 with Hardie ahead of him for a few years. That has now reversed. So if GG is a determined and motivated fellow he can bounce back and press for a permanent starting spot. Its up to him to make the case.

    • RuggersB on

      Think folks are looking too much into GG omission. I just think Harley covers lineout and back row…and has more experience for such a big game. I fully expect GG to get his shot over the coming matches.

  16. Ńéíł on

    I have taken the liberty of hiring some football junkies from leith to slash the tires of the Ireland team bus outside the Balmoral.

    The chaos and disruption it will sow into the Irish team will prevent them from warming up correctly and should translate onto the pitch for around 5-10 points.

    Hopefully the policemen have been bribed to get lost again also.

  17. James on

    Lots of Seymour bashing on here, let’s hope he answers with a blistering performance and a couple of tries. I wouldn’t put it past BK coming on and nicking one as well!

    I just hope we can cope with the physicality we know is coming. It’s been our weakness for years, don’t know why. Must be partly mental. And talking of mental, Harley will certainly help with getting the team motivated. Never seems to take a backward step.

    • Referendum on

      Please explain and without clique. What to do and not to do with him refereeing please. Would be interested in constructive comment on this.

      • Grant on

        Fast on the ball, room to slide offside in defence , and key is talk to him, but just the captain.
        And not just Romain but as withall refs , cut out the stupid stuff that give free yards to the opposition.

  18. Ade on

    I think it is fantastic that we are in a position where we can bench the player that scored a hat-trick the week before and not lose out on the pitch. With the likes of McGuigan and Jones next up, and then a young tyro like Graham getting exposure at the top of the Pro game the back three is an area of strength for us.

    Real shame for Nel, but Berghan has improved hugely in the last 2 years, and with Brown back there is an opportunity to change at hooker before the game is done and dusted as it was last week.

    Ireland will obviously miss the likes of Stander and Toner up front, but that is still a beastly back row, and Farrell is some unit to be charging at you through the Murrayfield glaur. They will not want to lose 2 in a row, especially after England gave them a howkin’ on their own patch.

    Scotland can win this, but it will take a strong performance over the 80 minutes. Looking forward to it!

    • JohnMc on

      Very few prisoners to be taken this Saturday. It will be an almighty battle at Murrayfield.

      Lots of talking big by Irish and independent pundits about the backlash to come after the loss to England blah, blah, blah.

      But what about for us the motivation of going for two straight wins first up in this 6N? Surely as powerful as Ireland’s motivation not to lose two on the bounce?

      Just think we will be watching a cracking Test match.

      Not calling the winner, but I think there won’t be more than six points or so between the two sides.

  19. WilkyBoiYaBass on

    I’m glad calmer heads have prevailed and we’ll be having Kinghorn on at 10 around the 60 minute mark with Russell moving to 12

  20. Big Al on

    I think the weather will have a big impact on this game so kicking, kick chase and catching will be key. There could also be a lot of handling errors, so lots of scrums and we need to hold our end up or we’ll be kicked in to the corners and have to defend lineout mauls. Could be one of those days when the team that makes the least mistakes wins.

    • Scrummo on

      On the contrary the best thing to do is turn Neil’s slur into something of a tongue in cheek badge of honour.

  21. RuggersB on

    I think the projected weather conditions will hugely favor Ireland’s playing style rather than Scotland’s. Ireland have lots of big ball carriers to get them up the park…. we do not. As a team, imo, we aren’t very good at catching the high ball at best of times…let alone when its gusty and potentially wet. We need to get the ball down and in hands accurately. Long loopy Russell passes would also be a huge risk. Could be a terrible game to watch…. just hoofball littered with handling errors…IF it plays out like that…Ireland to win by at least 10 points. The better the conditions the more chance we have.

    • Rob on

      Fully agreed! I have a bad feeling that the conditions will suit Ireland much more than Scotland and it will play to their strengths. I feel we will not be happy chappies come Saturday night

  22. Greenhorn on

    Think Gilchrist will be subbed 50 55 min so he can empty himself for that time don’t think he has 80 min engine.

      • Highland Bear on

        Barring injury, I’d expect Gilchrist to be subbed given he played the full 80 last week. That is, unless Gray junior tackles himself to a standstill.

  23. Ńéíł on

    A shame so many of our pack are injured/not ready/not starting/out of form this game as there is some real strength that could of matched Ireland physically i think.

    1. Rory Sutherland
    2. Fraser Brown
    3. Zander Fagerson
    4. Sam Skinner
    5. Richie Gray
    6. John Barclay
    7. Hamish Watson
    8. Magnus Bradbury
    9. George Horne
    10. Adam Hastings
    11. Tim Visser
    12. Matt Scott
    13. Duncan Taylor
    14. Darcy Graham
    15. Blair Kinghorn

    16. Ross Ford
    17. Daryll Marfo
    18. Wp Nel
    19. Ben Toolis
    20. Blade Thomson
    21. Henry Prygos
    22. Duncan Weir
    23. Mark Bennett

    Hopefully the injury count is not as high come the World cup ?

    Who would make your starting 15 when in form those not selected ? would Denton come into the mix ?

    • Scrummo on

      Denton starts at 8 for me when fit, he’s an utter colossus and we have nobody else who can flatten the opposition both when carrying and tackling as often as he does. Ritchie, Watson, Denton would be my ideal backrow. Bad haircut though.

    • RuggersB on

      Yeah….. interesting how the media focus seems to be on Irelands injuries ….yet Scotland’s seems like one of the largest injury lists Ive seen for a long while.

      Fagerson, Skinner, Barclay, Watson, Bradbury, Horne, Taylor, Nel would all have made my 23 for this match.

      Puts us right up against it for a a match that would have been tough anyway. If we do win ..it will show a terrific strength of depth.

  24. Ben F on

    Seymour and Hogg work well together. Seymour is a product of the Irish Rugby Academies , this is not the game to drop him. Kinghorn would be targetted from the start , but from the bench, could carve a way through a tiring side. However if we have to tackle all day long, the game will be lost in the closing stages. This one is about who retains the ball first half.The team that manages the gain line is king.

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