Nathan Hines could finally get his chance to push for a British & Irish Lions tour place by getting a call to play for Scotland against Ireland at Murrayfield this weekend.
The Perpignan lock is finally available for selection after extensive work with Scotland’s rehab physiotherapists to recover from a knee problem which has kept him sidelined since January.
Scottish coach Frank Hadden has given himself the option of selecting two locks from four for the clash with the unbeaten Irish having seen Hines and Jim Hamilton recover from injuries.
They will now be considered along with the incumbents, Jason White and Ali Kellock. Whoever plays will get the chance to face Ireland’s two Lions locks, Paul O’Connell and Donncha O’Callaghan.
Another Scottish stalwart set to return to the starting line-up is Chris Paterson. The Edinburgh utility back will make his first start of the 2009 RBS Six Nations Championship when he lines-up at full-back.
Paterson will extend his Scottish cap record to 94 on the day and he is one of a minimum of two changes made to the team that beat Italy last month.
The other change sees Gloucester’s Alasdair Dickinson introduced at loose-head instead of the injured Allan Jacobsen. Dickinson was on the opposite side of the scrum earlier in the championship when Scotland played in Paris.
“I’ve been impressed with Chris Paterson’s attitude in this Championship. As ever, he’s been the model professional, getting on with his job and he deserves the opportunity to start on this occasion,” said Hadden.
“Once we have finalised the lock selections we will complete our bench selection. It will be a close call in the second-row, but clearly we’ll go with the players we believe give us the best chance of creating the sort of platform that we’ll need to win against a fine Irish team.”
There are two places to be filled among the replacements, one of which will come from the four locks. The other place could go to Rory Lamont, who is having his fitness monitored within the squad after recovering from injury.
Scotland: Chris Paterson (Edinburgh); Simon Danielli (Ulster), Max Evans (Glasgow Warriors), Graeme Morrison (Glasgow Warriors), Thom Evans (Glasgow Warriors); Phil Godman (Edinburgh), Mike Blair (Edinburgh, captain); Alasdair Dickinson (Gloucester),
Ross Ford (Edinburgh), Euan Murray (Northampton Saints), Locks from Jim Hamilton (Edinburgh), Nathan Hines (Perpignan), Alastair Kellock (Glasgow Warriors) and Jason White (Sale Sharks), Alasdair Strokosch (Gloucester), John Barclay (Glasgow Warriors), Simon Taylor (Stade Francais)
Replacements: Dougie Hall (Glasgow Warriors), Moray Low (Glasgow Warriors), TBC,
Scott Gray (Northampton Saints), Chris Cusiter (Perpignan), TBC, Hugo Southwell (Edinburgh)