Scotland make three changes for clash with Ireland

The sides meet this Saturday afternoon at Murrayfield

Huw Jones, Scotland

Image: Jane Barlow / PA Wire/PA Images

Scotland welcome back young Huw Jones as head coach Vern Cotter makes three changes to his side ahead of their Six Nations opener with Ireland at Murrayfield.

Joe Schmidt's side open their campaign to a side looking to make an impact early on and Cotter has introduced plenty of fresh blood to his ranks ahead of Saturday's game.

Stormers centre Jones is back in the starting line-up in replacing Mark Bennett having recovered from a foot injury. The 23-year-old will be happy to return having missed Scotland's final November Series test match against Georgia in 2016.

He featured in their clash with Australia and scored two tries in what was his first start for the country. He also featured against Argentina the following week but sustained his foot injury. 

Huw Jones crosses against Australia last November. Image: Jane Barlow / PA Wire/PA Images

He starts beside Alex Dunbar, in between returning half backs Greig Laidlaw and Finn Russell, and the back-three trio of Stuart Hogg, Sean Maitland and Tommy Seymour.

Glasgow Warriors hooker Fraser Brown is elevated from the bench in place of Ross Ford and Josh Strauss replacing club-mate Rob Harley.

"Although it’s a reasonably settled squad, it’s nice to have an uncapped player and some reasonably new players in the team, who bring their enthusiasm along with the others," Cotter said in a statement this afternoon

"We’ve been growing our depth and our versatility within that, so we have a number of different options that allow us to continually attack the opposition, which is our main focus.

"Facing Ireland first up doesn’t get much harder. They are at the top of their game and will come here with confidence after beating some of the best teams in the world, including the All Blacks and Wallabies and having won the tournament twice in the past three years."

He added: "We aim to win every game we play but know that Ireland will come here with a lot of confidence and try to dominate us on our home paddock.

"Those are the challenges of the sport at a high level but we’ll embrace that and put everything we have into getting the right performance and result this Saturday."

Scotland XV to face Ireland (*denotes caps)

15. Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors) *48 
14. Sean Maitland (Saracens) *26 
13. Huw Jones (Stormers) *3 
12. Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors) *19 
11. Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors) *31 
10. Finn Russell (Glasgow Warriors) *22
9. Greig Laidlaw (C) (Gloucester) *56 

1. Allan Dell (Edinburgh Rugby) *3 
2. Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) *20 
3. Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) *4 
4. Richie Gray (Toulouse) *60 
5. Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors) *28 
6. Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors) *23 
7. Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby) *5
8. Josh Strauss (Glasgow Warriors)  *9 

Replacements

16. Ross Ford (Edinburgh Rugby) *102 
17. Gordon Reid (Glasgow Warriors) *19 
18. Simon Berghan (Edinburgh Rugby) *0
19. Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors) *25
20. John Barclay (Scarlets) *55
21. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) *1 
22. Duncan Weir (Edinburgh Rugby) *23
23. Mark Bennett (Glasgow Warriors) *17