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)
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.