Cross is only Scottish change

Geoff Cross is the only change to the Scotland starting side to face Ireland this weekend. [more]

Cross is only Scottish change

Geoff Cross is the only change to the Scotland starting side to face Ireland this weekend.

Edinburgh prop Cross comes in for 2009 Lion Euan Murray, who refuses to play on Sundays for religious reasons.

Cross packs down at tight-head and will win his 18th cap, with his last start coming against the All Blacks in the autumn.

Interim head coach Scott Johnson has otherwise kept faith with the side that beat Italy 34-10, although Dougie Hall and Jon Welsh are added to the replacements bench, with Hall having recovered from the knee injury he suffered after starting against England three weeks ago.

“We’ve kept changes to a minimum and are saying to the players: ‘You’ve won one game. Now go out show us you can win another’,” said Johnson, who insists improvements still have to be made from the Italian success.

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“It’s good to see players challenging for selection – and there are a number consistently putting their hands up, which is exactly what we want to see.

“We have to improve on our last game and that’s been our theme at training all week.

“I make no apology for saying again that we have to step up our work in the contact area. Yes, we’ve some talented athletes in the squad, but we have to give them the opportunities.”

Full back Stuart Hogg and wings Sean Maitland and Tim Visser will be looking to back up their impressive showings against Italy and England, while Edinburgh fly-half Greig Laidlaw is again selected at his original position of scrum-half.

Kelly Brown captains the side from the openside flank, with Johnnie Beattie again at No8 and Robert Harley keeping his place at blindside after Alasdair Strokosch was injured at Twickenham in the opening round of action.

Former skipper Al Kellock will hit a half century of caps if he is called upon from the bench.

Scotland (v Ireland, Murrayfield, Sunday 2pm)

Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors); Sean Maitland (Glasgow Warriors), Sean Lamont (Glasgow Warriors), Matt Scott (Edinburgh Rugby), Tim Visser (Edinburgh Rugby), Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow Warriors), Greig Laidlaw (Edinburgh Rugby); Ryan Grant (Glasgow Warriors), Ross Ford (Edinburgh Rugby), Geoff Cross (Edinburgh Rugby), Richie Gray (Sale Sharks), Jim Hamilton (Gloucester), Robert Harley (Glasgow Warriors), Kelly Brown (Saracens) captain, Johnnie Beattie (Montpellier)

Replacements: Dougie Hall (Glasgow Warriors), Jon Welsh (Glasgow Warriors), Moray Low (Glasgow Warriors), Alastair Kellock (Glasgow Warriors), David Denton (Edinburgh Rugby), Henry Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors), Duncan Weir (Glasgow Warriors), Max Evans (Castres)

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