Guinness Six Nations
Hat-trick hero Kinghorn dropped for Irish clash
Blair Kinghorn’s hat-trick against Italy wasn’t enough to keep his place for the visit of Ireland (pic: SNS Group)
Blair Kinghorn, Scotland’s Six Nations hat-trick hero against Italy, has been dropped to the bench for the visit of Ireland this weekend.
His treble was not enough to retain his place in the side, with head coach Gregor Townsend recalling fit-again Sean Maitland for Saturday’s international.
The 30-year-old has recovered from a hamstring injury and will be looking to add to his haul of six tries in his last nine internationals when he runs out at Murrayfield.
The switch of wingers is one of four alterations to the team which ran in five tries in a 33-20 win over the Italians.
The remaining changes come in the pack where prop Simon Berghan and back-row Josh Strauss start in place of injured forwards Willem Nel (calf) and Sam Skinner (ankle), while Jonny Gray’s recovery from a shoulder injury sees him replace second-row Ben Toolis, who moves to the bench.
The bench sees four further changes, where uncapped prop D’arcy Rae takes the replacement spot vacated by Berghan, experienced Glasgow Warriors pair Fraser Brown (hooker) and Pete Horne (centre) return from injury to feature for the first time in the campaign, and fellow-Warrior Rob Harley is drafted in from outwith the wider squad into the match-day 23.
Townsend said: “We picked up two injuries from last week with WP (Nel) and Sam (Skinner) missing out, which is disappointing for us and them, but have had a boost with a number of proven Test players returning from injury and available to us this week.
“To have that calibre of player and experience around the group in the build-up this week, and during a game of such magnitude, is very important.”
Looking ahead to Saturday’s Test, Townsend added: “It’s massive. It’s probably the biggest challenge we’ll face in the Guinness Six Nations, given the way Ireland have been playing in the last few years – they are grand slam champions and the No. 2 team in the world.
“They’re very well coached, have some outstanding players and will test us in a number of areas – defensively, set-piece, attack and kicking game. It is a challenge that brings an extra edge and focus to training and something our players relish taking on.
“Our players have risen to the challenge of playing New Zealand, England and other world-class teams and they are aware we must rise once more to produce one of our best-ever performances for 80 minutes.”
Scotland: Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors), Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors), Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors), Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors), Sean Maitland (Saracens), Finn Russell (Racing 92), Greig Laidlaw (Clermont Auvergne – capt); Allan Dell (Edinburgh), Stuart McInally (Edinburgh – vice-captain), Simon Berghan (Edinburgh), Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh), Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors), Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors), Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh), Josh Strauss (Sale Sharks).
Replacements: Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors), Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors), D’arcy Rae (Glasgow Warriors), Ben Toolis (Edinburgh), Rob Harley (Glasgow Warriors), Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors), Peter Horne (Glasgow Warriors), Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh).