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LionsWatch: Settled Scotland ready for Ireland

LionsWatch: Settled Scotland ready for Ireland

There are three British & Irish Lions in Scotland’s starting XV to take on Ireland this weekend in the first weekend of the RBS 6 Nations with a fourth on the bench.

Simon Berghan could make his debut for Scotland if called off the bench

There are three British & Irish Lions in Scotland’s starting XV to take on Ireland this weekend in the first weekend of the RBS 6 Nations with a fourth on the bench.

Vern Cotter has named a settled looking side as they welcome Ireland to BT Murrayfield and after a strong autumn for both sides confidence is high.

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2013 Lions Stuart Hogg, Sean Maitland and Richie Gray all start for the Scots while 2009 tourist Ross Ford is on the bench.

And with the 2017 Tour to New Zealand later this year, Lions Head Coach Warren Gatland will be playing close attention to events in the Scottish capital.

But for Cotter there is every chance that his Scotland side – who have beaten Italy, France and Argentina in the last year – can do the business.

"Facing Ireland first up doesn't get much harder,” he said.

"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.

"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."

Joining Lions Hogg and Maitland in the back three is the in-form Tommy Seymour while Huw Jones has regained his fitness to start at outside centre with Alex Dunbar inside him.

Finn Russell has pulled the strings in impressive fashion for Glasgow Warriors this season as they have made the European quarter-finals for the first time in their history and he will look to replicate that form outside captain Greig Laidlaw in the half backs.

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Up front Zander Fagerson and Allan Dell join hooker Fraser Brown in the front row while Gray is partnered once more with his younger brother Jonny in the second row.

In the back row Josh Strauss comes in at No 8 meaning Ryan Wilson slides to blindside flanker with Hamish Watson at openside.

On the bench the uncapped prop Simon Berghan could make his debut if called upon while the likes of Ford, John Barclay and Mark Bennett will all make an impact when called upon.

"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,” added Cotter.

"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."
 
Scotland team to play Ireland in Edinburgh:

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

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

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

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