Ireland v Scotland: the teams

Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Kick-off: 4.45pm
Live on STV / ITV

With all the hurly-burly of Monday now fading into an ugly memory, Adam Hastings will direct the Scotland team at the Aviva from standoff and the real business of the tournament begins.

It’s a massive opportunity for him, as if he plays a blinder and can somehow back it up again next week then Finn Russell may have to work harder than a simple apology to get back in the team and earn that 50th cap.

He’s partnered by Ali Price in a Glasgow (past and present) heavy back line. The oft-debated centre partnership, at the end of it all, is Sam Johnson and Huw Jones, settled at Glasgow and possibly re-assuringly familiar to their playmaker. Matt Scott is unlucky to miss out altogether, but Rory Hutchinson and Chris Harris offer a range of cover possibilities from the bench. Stuart Hogg captains in a familiar back three grouping.

Elsewhere in the team there is one major talking point – Nick Haining (who has an actual Scottish granny) picked at Number 8 in an all Edinburgh back row as a reward for the barnstorming – and ball-carrying – form he’s shown this season, even despite a couple of injuries. The back row is still all Edinburgh with Magnus Bradbury sitting this one out injured, but Scott Cummings has usurped both Toolis and Gilchrist to claim a starting slot in the second row. On the bench, Cornell du Preez completes a remarkable comeback from that horrific larynx injury suffered in 2018.

If there is a worry it’s at prop with none of the looseheads starting much for their clubs and tightheads picked for their loose play rather than set piece. Rory Sutherland will be raring to go though and is looking at a fourth cap, his first in almost four years.

Scotland are not tipped to do much of anything in this tournament but with a brand new defensive system no-one has seen before, this is possibly their only chance to catch anyone napping.

Will Ireland, with some coaching changes of their own, be susceptible? They’ve selected a few on reputation (*cough* halfbacks *cough*), and from the World Cup we ourselves know how that goes.

On paper it looks a very tall order, but Toony has at least picked a team on form; that is the first step.

Ireland: Jordan Larmour; Andrew Conway, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale, Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Rob Herring, Tadhg Furlong; Iain Henderson, James Ryan, CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris.
Replacements: Ronan Kelleher, Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, Devin Toner, Peter O’Mahony, John Cooney, Ross Byrne, Robbie Henshaw.

Scotland: Stuart Hogg (capt), Sean Maitland, Huw Jones, Sam Johnson, Blair Kinghorn, Adam Hastings, Ali Price; Rory Sutherland, Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings, Jonny Gray, Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Nick Haining.
Replacements: Stuart McInally, Allan Dell, Simon Berghan, Ben Toolis, Cornell du Preez, George Horne, Rory Hutchinson, Chris Harris.

Part II of Kevin’s preview will appear soon. His Ireland v Scotland preview Part I is here.

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71 comments on “Ireland v Scotland: the teams

  1. SB on

    Hopefully Huw Jones returns in style.

    I expect to see a lot of tears about George Horne but when the pressure was on in Exeter he folded like a cheap suit. Sadly that is his only start in a big away game and until he proves he can step up in those circumstances he will be behind Price (who has been in great form).

  2. Scrummo on

    I like that team a lot and the bench is strong.

    Great to see Sutherland back at this level after some horrific injuries, he’s a very, very good player and I hope he will have made the shirt his own by the end of the tournament.

    Some real carrying options in the pack with Fagerson and Cummings in as well as a genuine out and out ball carrier at 8 (Shame Bradbury is injured mind). Shame Crosbie isnt on the bench but I think CDP will have a point to prove and is another big carried.

    I would have liked to see Scott at 12 but no surprise to see Johnson with Hastings being at 10. Hardly a poor option either!

    • Stu2 on

      CDP has failed everytime for Scotland, a flat track bully who wasn’t even much cop at that. Crosbie should be on the bench.

      • Scrummo on

        Ah I remember that France game too. I believe you’ve got ‘Harris goggles’ on here though.

        Dont worry CdP is a very good player with an offloading game that is certainly more than flat track bully levels.

      • Stu2 on

        What’s the point in going back to him – Crosbie needs tested and this would be an ideal opportunity off the bench.

      • Scrummo on

        Crosbie is a gritty and abrasive 6 who can play 7 so a very different kind of player, I’d have like to have seen him too mind.

  3. greengumbo on

    So Nick Haining is in ?! Find the selection of Johnson a bit conservative given Hutchinsons form but its tough selecting those centre pairings so going for an all Glasgow affair makes sense and the Hutch can cover 10 from the bench. Pleased for Fagerson, Cummings and Sutherland all starting !

    I would have preferred Horne on from the start…..but again the Hastings Price duo is more than decent !

  4. Ali boy on

    At last – a team of players on form and not reputation. Really glad both Ritchie and Watson start. Also feel that is the best second row. Got the back three right. I see what he’s done with the centre’s but feel in some way underwhelmed. I hope they both prove me wrong and feel there is a performance to be had by Them at some point. First half scrums will be squeaky bum time. Also worried by Toolis ever since WC warm up where he seemed so flat. Hope he has regained some of that earlier form when he first played for Scotland.

  5. Neil on

    In terms of Form throughout the season i would of had Horne, Scott , Hutchison in.

    When you take into account everything else however and that fact these guys selected and coming into decent/good form then i cant really complain, i do hope Horne/Scott/Hutchison get a lot of game time throughout this season however.

    • Campbell B on

      Neil : GT has done everything but play the guys in form and he has largely rectified that in this selection. We are finaly on Chapter 1 , page 1, a bit of convention has finally landed, let’s at least give him a chance.He has picked a strange time to do it,but better late than never.

      I actually do not think it could get much better than this, GT finally has access to in form players , largely injury free, has changed his coaching team, his captain, he is now in a mexican standoff with , would you believe , his standoff.

      At least we get some drama off the pitch.Wha’s like us !!

  6. TeamCam on

    Strong, but surprising, selection. For me, Ireland have better 1, 3 and 8, but otherwise we match or exceed them on current form.

      • Martin on

        We were horsed by Ireland at the World Cup – have one once in the last 20 years in Ireland – Leinster are unbeaten this year – in the big club games between Irish and Scottish teams the Irish have come out on top a majority of times. Healy is a brutish lion, Ryan is a future lion, Henderson is a lion, Murray is a lion and arguably the 2nd best scrum half in the last decade. Sexton last years world player of the Year. Stockdale has been a revelation. Larmour has made more metres and beat twice as many players as Hogg this year. Ringrose is a future lion and Conway has jet heals and has been incredible for the past 12 months….

        On form we could maybe claim Brown, Cummings and Ritchie – even then it’s close.

      • Campbell B on

        You cannot argue with that Martin. For what it is worth , yours is not the comment that needed substantiation. Let’s hear it TC !

      • TeamCam on

        Opening with Healy when I conceded their props were better? Ok…

        Being a Lion is more indicative of a lack of Scottishness. Murray has not played well since his neck injury. Sexton hasn’t played well since his WPotY award. I said on current form. Ryan and Henderson are undoubtedly excellent; as are Cummings and Gray.

        Duhan has made more metres and beaten more defenders than Larmour; Hogg has been in fine form, is one of the few Scots selected by Gatland to be a Lion despite being Scottish and is a EPotY nominee, as well as a 2x 6NPotY winner. Kinghorn is hardly slow and Maitland is another extremely rare Scottish Lion, has won multiple Premiership and ERCC titles, and has been scoring loads of tries under Toonie. Jones, on form, has a better international record than the excellent Ringrose, but Ringrose is class. Stockdale scores tries but is otherwise a liability, as was demonstrated the last time Ulster played Warriors in the Pro14.

        I appreciate your efforts to justify your position, but you’ve not changed mine, with the exception of Ryan, who I will concede is better than Cummings.

        Seeing how Farrell fares without Schmidt will be interesting; most of Ireland’s success in the last few years has been largely down to the coaching, both at Leinster and Ireland. Can Farrell keep the momentum going?

      • TeamCam on

        The props, Haining (although partially explained by injury), no Nel on the bench, four centres is the 23.

    • Martin on

      I hope you are right – tomorrow will be the proof of the pudding, but i think you are drastically underestimating how good the Irish players are playing just now

      • Campbell B on

        Martin: Dont take the bait. Those positives are well in the past and well subjective. If we picked a lions team today , how many scots would be in it, how many Irish would make it. Not many but a few more than the scots picks. Hogg might make it but frankly and this is painful to say , Liam Williams is likely to be the first choice 15. This Irish side are settled, Toony’s side are full of promise but unsettled away from home and have Toony pressing their buttons. There is hope, we live in hope, but on paper , this is a no brainer.We just need to remember the game is played on Grass, green green Irish grass, not paper. So there is always hope, but be assured , not because of one single reason TC has posted, in my opinion.

      • TeamCam on

        Am I, though? I just think that the Scottish players are also playing very well. Cf. the ERCC. Leinster have, sadly, yet to be tested, and Wales are annual proof that club form doesn’t translate to international form.

        I don’t think we’re better, but I also don’t think our players are significantly worse.

      • TeamCam on

        Campbell: what a negative, and hypocritical, attitude. Sexton and Murray are the past. They might have a great game, but I’d be more afraid of Cooney and Carberry. If you disagree with me, refute my points, without being “well in the past and well subjective” (not clear to whom you were referring here…).

      • Campbell B on

        TC: It is not negative or hypoctitical, not that that is relevant. I think you just meant to say ‘Campbell you have a different opinion to me’ !

        The refute was justified you must have missed or ignored that. You talk up the quality of Maitland and Hogg who were lions on ‘past tours’ (well past as we are on the eve of the next one) but so were the pair you consider ‘past it’ , Murray and Sexton.

        I obviously do not think they are ‘past it’ which is subjective but it would appear their coach , doesnt think so either.

        See you at the match.

      • TeamCam on

        If that’s what I had meant, that’s what I would have written. If you don’t want that kind of response, perhaps you shouldn’t baselessly accuse people of baiting others. And what you’ve written is a dismissal rather than a refutation.

        Whilst all four players are Lions, only Hogg and Maitland have been playing well of late. It’s not just my opinion, I’ve read lots of comments from other fans, including Irish fans, who are questioning Murray and Sexton’s form. I’m not saying they’ll be bad, I’m just saying that on current form I don’t envy Ireland for their half-back selection. I really didn’t think my comments would be perceived so controversially…

      • Neil on

        Just ignore him Campbell B you have already won the debate, TC is just a bottom-feeder seeking attention, it’s beyond pathetic at this point.

      • Campbell B on

        Neil , I am trying and I need to try harder but, I am really confused, please forgive me for asking one last thing.

        I am wondering why TC is more fearful of ‘Cooney and Carberry’ than Sexton and Murray !

        TC : I have checked and Carberry isnt listed in the match day 23. He is no threat whatsoever . I am scratching my head. Did You mean something different to what you wrote !

  7. Johnny b on

    There are plenty of tries in the back division although I was hoping to see Scott bring a direct game close in to the breakdown.
    CdP v Crosbie must have been close on the bench.
    Hutchinson covering 10 is a typical Toonie flip. Hutch has all the skills to play 10 combined with the pace and build of an outside centre, but never plays there for his club! The ball won’t be kicked very much if he comes on at 10.

    As usual it will come down to the forwards. We know what Ireland will do, which doesn’t make it easy to play against, can we withstand it?

    If we do then there’s a game on.

  8. FF on

    Wow, only 5 survivors from our RWC-opener disaster. Deservedly so I suppose, but shows the extent that last season was basically a write off.

    Quite a strong side considering we are missing Russell, Graham, Bradbury, Blade Thompson, Gray, Skinner who all may have expected to be in the mix.

    My only significant concerns are at 8 and in the front row at scrum time. We need a heroic defensive showing, highest levels of execution, and a storming game from Hastings to be in with a chance. It’s a tall order but expectations are low so a spirited, competent performance will probably be enough to be satisfied. Big opportunity for a number of players – I hope they seize it!

  9. Busy Little Bee on

    We’re 1 injury away from having a guy at 10 who hasn’t played there for about 4 years. That said I’m delighted Hutchinson will be involved somewhere.

    TeamCam – really? You really think Ireland are not better off at 4, 5, 9 and 10 (at least) as of today?

    Think we will get beat by 25 on Saturday.

    • TeamCam on

      I can’t remember the last time Murray or Sexton had a good game. Maybe Ryan’s better, but as much as I rate Henderson, I wouldn’t say he’s better than Cummings or Gray.

      • Johnny B Lake on

        Class is forever. Even on the wain they have nothing to prove .Furthermore they are part of a more settled team than Toony’s dolly mixtures.That is just 2 reasons why it is advantage Ireland and there is no point in raising concerns about refs post the match.We will play a decent game , it will be an enjoyable game,but it won’t be the referees ,or the players, it will simply be that 3 years into Toony,s tenure we see yet another new start ,new team ,new captain and playing men at international level that have spent more time in the infirmary than the rugby pitch in the last 2 years.I am optimistic about a good game but let’s stop deluding ourselves, if this is what we see outside looking in,What must it be like inside looking at the man next to you.Good luck lads ,have an enjoyable game and play for each other.

      • TeamCam on

        Who’s deluding themselves? I never said we were going smash them. I never even said we’d win. There’s a difference between the relative quality of 23 players and how they perform as a team.

        I cannot recall being less optimistic for a 6N.

    • Johnny b on

      I watched Saints recently and in terms of distribution and kicking Hutchinson is like a fly half with an outside centre’s build and pace.
      He also has that kind of arrogance and time on the ball which all the best fly halves have
      I’d have no qualms with him covering 10 if he played there even only occasionally at premiership level.
      Obviously he doesn’t , and if he came on I wouldn’t expect to see a whole lot of tactical kicking or attempting to control the game as you would with Weir.

      It’s a risk but are we surprised? Toonie has been clear from day 1 that he puts a premium on footballing ability and Flair and Hutchinson has those in spades.

      Toonie played like an escapee from the centre himself, he was never much cop at the kicking game!

      Considering Townsend’s not exactly secret philosophy this selection doesn’t surprise me. A more risk averse coach would have gone for Weir but it wouldn’t be a Toonie 23 without at least 1 curve ball…….. gulp….

  10. Referendum on

    Interesting if you look at the omissions, not saying they are right or wrong just that they are stark due to some not being out of a big game squad when fit in a long time.

    When was Nel not in a 23? Gilchrist? Russell for obvious reasons. Where has Haining come from? I’m not even sure I’ve heard of him (probably my fault rather than him) but can someone give me a few lines on what he does and if he starts on form? Thought Scott would get a show somewhere but it’s a pretty decent (if not as experienced as some) back line there which is exciting. Think I’d rather see Horne do his stuff from the start (even just to get a try on the board as he almost always scores) and being different for Ireland V Scotland at least. There are definite risks being taken by management and it may backfire but unlike The World Cup Townsend will not die wondering here. Hope it pays off and he doesn’t get the flack for doing this when there are so many complaints when he does the opposite.

  11. Feepole on

    Oh noooo!!!

    The hope has returned. Quietly, subtly, but it’s still there. That little voice saying ‘Maybe, just maybe…..’ Aw, man!

    • Virverax on

      + 1

      I nearly gave on the Scotland rugby team altogether after the World Cup I was so depressed . Then along came Russelgate 2 which really set my depression off again.

      This time I really do feel hopeful that we are going to surprise a few folk this season. It’s a decent pick for the Ireland game, if the coaches can just get them snarling a bit.

      • Feepole on

        The whole Finn thing has to be such an incentive to the squad – outing like a bit of siege mentality to bring out the big performance.

        A bit worried about scrum time mind. Knock ons could prove costly!

  12. RuggersB on

    A couple of surprises in that selection ..for me.
    No Scott?…GT just doesn’t rate the guy. On current form should have been 12 Id say….but then Johnson has more recent experience at test level…albeit not a good experience.If in any way exposed, Jones/Johnson could easily be steamrolled by the Irish. Hutchinson off the bench is a clever option tho. Its like GT doesn’t trust the centre either by picking 2 on the bench.
    Haining?…Is he good enough to usurp Du Preez at 8? A wild card that’ll work out or it won’t. Shame Bradbury is injured.
    Id have had Crosbie on the bench.

    Glad to see Sutherland back….potentially a very good LH. Dell is just too soft for this level. Tougher than tough place to go to for a 1st game back in the fold. I think Nel is past it too hasn’t been at the same level since recovering from his neck injury. At least we have a top class scrum coach.

    We were atrocious at the RWC v Ireland….and even 5 can consider themselves fortunate to be was so bad.

    Defense will have to be at a different level to what we showed last year to even compete…hopefully Tandy has sorted some stuff out off the bat.

    Unless we are a miraculously different team to last year…I cant see anything other than a loss… its virtually a new team and a new season tho…so who knows..

  13. D C on

    Q – Who has the best form of any available Scotland back in the last year?
    A – Hutchinson

    Ah, yes. On the bench.
    Mind boggling.

    Haining has been immense for Edinburgh. Great call.

    • RuggersB on

      Haining will be an interesting one…
      For such a big guy…he looks like he hits the gym once a year…but definitely plays with ‘dog’ and is deceptively pacey..something we have really lacked for some time.

      • Tryhard on

        This. The more I think about it the more I think this is the right centre picks (although maybe Scott).

        These guys won’t have much to fear against this Irish team having played all of them a lot recently but poor old Hutch did not have a good time against Leinster. Don’t want to wreck his confidence early in the championship.

  14. Rj on

    Overall a good side selected which is predominately picked on form so hopefully some lessons being learned. That said Think Johnson can consider himself lucky to retain his place, Scott has been in far better form than him this year. The latter probably a victim of Finngate as it’s fair enough to play Hastings beside somebody he knows.

    Some good calls been made in several other positions though. Anyone who read the rugby pass article on Sutherland will know how big a deal this is for him to get back to this level, fair play to him, hope he does really well. Cummings a good choice ahead of the Edinburgh pair, think he could make a big impact on this competition. Haining has been excelllent this season for Edinburgh.

      • BruceP on

        Or maybe Sam Johnson has shown up better during camp, held onto more passes from Hastings or adapted better to Tandy’s defensive scheme? Can we please just get behind the 23 selected instead of promoting the strengths of those not chosen.

  15. FF on

    Not strictly relevant but the french backline selected against england is bonkers – and they have a stable full of prodigious talents in the wider squad.

    Dupont, NTamack, Fickou, Vakatawa, Penaud, Thomas, Bouthier (Jalibert, Rattez, Serin).

    Let’s hope their remodelled pack is mince otherwise not sure our home game against France is much of a banker

    I guess the point is having an epic backline isn’t much of a point of difference in the 6N. We need our pack to get nasty.

    • RuggersB on

      France have Shaun Edwards now as their defense coach!….could be a great side if they sort their discipline out.
      Based on last year ….we have no ‘bankers’ whatsoever.

      • Matto on

        France are a sleeping beast. I thought they were unlucky at the RWC (daft red cost them dearly). New talent coming through is incredible. I think they are going to do well this 6N and are going to rise significantly over the nect few years with the new regime.

  16. Doon Sooth on

    Why don’t Edinburgh open the cheque book and offer Hutchinson a contract to come and play 10 for them? He has all the skills to make an international stand off and Scotland have plenty of resources in the centres – both 12 and 13. Just a thought.

    • Campbell B on

      I would say leave him where he is, at least for now. For me we should leave these guys in an environment in which they are thriving. He is playing for a side 2nd in the table, played champions cup rugby and is not constrained by the SRU rotatation policy so can play week in week out and likely to be playing in both these competitions next season as well. No Brainer for me , stay where he is and learn.

  17. Warks Scot on

    Sort of get Johnson at 12 with club teammate Hastings playing at 10 but Scott is the form player & I would argue offers more in terms of skill set and ability to run straight through defences. Worried about Hutch being asked to cover 10 when his recent game time there is virtually nil as far as I know, a huge risk & Weir would offer an alternative tactical kicking game. As already said, it’s the pack that will determine whether we have a chance or not & they really need to front up from the kick off. If we get over the gain line, then Hutchinson might have more of a chance to show what he can do at fly half. Nervous about the game but simultaneously looking forward to seeing what a revamped team & new defence coaching can do in a short space of time. “Lucky” boxers, t-shirt, rugby shirt, shorts, scarf, hat, socks, jacket, gloves will all be needed plus plenty of screaming/swearing at the TV!

  18. Sas on

    Huw Jones is a winner for me . I can’t remember a Scottish player ever running in a try from 5 yards out carrying 2 English athletes wrapped around them , he’s an animal in attack

  19. Pete on

    Happy with the 23 and feel GT is talking more about the need for a dogged performance/stay in the fight which is key and from memory a mantra of Vern’s. On a side note, I think we must be the only supporters who still (have to) get nervous at the thought of a restart!!

  20. Matto on

    Backs are as expected, though i would’ve had Scott in at 12. A few surprises in the forwards. I’m worried about scrum and lineout, but hope for the best.
    It’s a good team, but my perenial concern remains that our tight five will dominate few, if any, of the opposition teams. It’s not really a selection issue as we simply don’t have many alternatives at the moment.
    In different circumstances an SQ Schooey and Gray snr might add the missing dominance.

  21. Greenhorn on

    Ah well at least Toonie going to do training session in Dublin for a change maybe help performance a little it’s all about small percentages winning games these days.

  22. Lien on

    A squad not selected in the 23.

    1. Gordy Reid
    2. George Turner
    3. WP Nel
    4. Richie Gray
    5. Sam Skinner
    6. Magnus Bradbury
    7. Luke Crosbie
    8. Blade Thomson
    9. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne
    10. Finn Russell
    11. Darcy Graham
    12. Matt Scott
    13. Mark Bennett
    14. Kyle Steyn
    15. Byron Mcguigan

    16. Grant Stewart
    17. Jamie Bhatti
    18. Darcy Rae
    19. Grant Gilchrist
    20. Thom Gordon/Matt Fagerson
    21. Henry Pyrgos
    22. Alex Dunbar
    23. Chris Harris

    Pretty handy talent/depth if you ask me, Shows where our lack of depth comes from also.

  23. MisterC on

    Scotland will go and spring a surprise tomorrow. The players will be fired up for this and all of them are on form at the moment. Irelands team is somewhat predictable and I can see a continuation of the flatness they have shown recently.

    When Scotland are expected to do well, things tend to go tits up. In recent seasons we have seen this time and again. However, in being written off and not expected to compete, that’s when we tend to get results.

    Scotland to win by 5, that’s my prediction

  24. Csc on

    Ity vs Wales – one sided game. Italy not got much in attack. Wales in control but ref is a bit generous in their favour.

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