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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 April 2019

Six Nations: Sean Maitland replaces Blair Kinghorn in Scotland's XV ahead of Ireland Test

Saracens wing has recovered from hamstring injury that saw him miss tournament-opening 33-20 win against Italy

Sean Maitland, seen here in Saracens action, has recovered from a hamstring injury. Adam Holt / Reuters
Sean Maitland, seen here in Saracens action, has recovered from a hamstring injury. Adam Holt / Reuters

Fit-again wing Sean Maitland has gone straight into Scotland's starting XV to play Ireland in the Six Nations at Murrayfield despite Blair Kingorn, the man he replaced, scoring a hat-trick against Italy.

Maitland has recovered from a hamstring injury that saw the Saracens wing miss Scotland's tournament-opening 33-20 win at home to Italy last weekend.

Kinghorn, who ran in three tries against the Azzurri, drops to the bench with Maitland lining up alongside fellow British & Irish Lions Stuart Hogg and Tommy Seymour in the back three.

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend has made four changes in all for the visit of champions Ireland to Murrayfield on Saturday, with the other three switches coming in the pack.

Prop Simon Berghan, yellow-carded against Italy, and back-row Josh Strauss start in place of the injured Willem Nel (calf) and Sam Skinner (ankle) respectively.

"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," Townsend said.

"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."

Meanwhile Jonny Gray's recovery from a shoulder injury sees him replace lock Ben Toolis, who moves to the bench.

Reigning Six Nations champions Ireland, whose hopes of back-to-back Grand Slams ended with a 32-20 defeat by England in Dublin last weekend, were due to name their side later on Thursday.

Ireland beat Scotland 28-8 in Dublin last season but their most recent visit to Murrayfield saw the Irish beaten 27-22 two years ago.

Former Scotland playmaker Townsend said, however, his side were set for their most daunting assignment in the whole of the Championship this weekend.

"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," Townsend said.

"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."

He added: "Our players have risen to the challenge of playing New Zealand, England and other world-class teams and they are aware that we must rise once more to produce one of our best-ever performances for 80 minutes.

Rob Kearney has been recalled at full-back by an injury-hit Ireland for their Six Nations international away to Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday as the reigning champions look to return to winning ways.

Robbie Henshaw, a British and Irish Lions centre who struggled at full-back in last week's tournament-opening 32-20 loss at home to England, has dropped out of the matchday 23 due to a dead leg injury.

Jonny Gray and Greg Laidlaw take part in a training session prior to the Six Nations in Edinburgh. Ian MacNicol / Getty Images
Jonny Gray and Greg Laidlaw take part in a training session prior to the Six Nations in Edinburgh. Ian MacNicol / Getty Images

Ireland 'cohesive'

Meanwhile Chris Farrell partners Bundee Aki in midfield following a Dublin defeat that ended their hopes of back-to-back Grand Slams.

"Robbie has a dead leg and just hasn't recovered in time," Ireland coach Joe Schmidt said.

"We're just going to have to forge ahead, but it's an exciting opportunity to give Chris Farrell a run against Scotland. He's coming back to form after a long lay-off," Schmidt added.

Farrell was selected after Garry Ringrose, who played against England, was ruled out with a hamstring injury.

The experienced Kearney, who will win an 88th Ireland cap in Edinburgh, has been working his way back to full fitness following a thigh problem.

Schmidt, asked if Kearney would have been included at full-back even if Henshaw had been fit, replied: "Probably once Garry Ringrose was ruled out it was going to be trying to keep a little continuity as best we can and get as cohesive as we can in a short space of time."

The New Zealander also made several, mainly injury-induced, changes to Ireland's pack.

Sean O'Brien was recalled for his 53rd cap after breaking his arm against Argentina in November in place of Josh van der Flier while Jack Conan was given a start at No 8 after CJ Stander suffered severe facial injuries against England.

Quinn Roux, like Stander born in South Africa, came into the second row in place of the sidelined Devin Toner.

Ireland captain Rory Best will win his 115th cap at Murrayfield despite concerns over the veteran hooker's line-out throwing against England.

The Irish beat Scotland 28-8 in Dublin last season but two years ago they lost 27-22 at Murrayfield.

Their cause was not helped by the team bus being late to the Edinburgh ground, prompting Schmidt to remark after the defeat that "we did not get off the bus".

This is Schmidt's last Six Nations in charge of Ireland before he stands down after this year's World Cup in Japan.

Updated: February 7, 2019 07:41 PM

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