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Laidlaw and Russell team up in half-backs

Laidlaw and Russell team up in half-backs

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend is looking forward to the ‘fantastic challenge’ of taking on Ireland on Sunday after naming his side for their Rugby World Cup opener.

Scrum-half Greig Laidlaw has held off the competition of Ali Price – who leapfrogged the veteran in the pecking order during the 2019 Guinness Six Nations – to earn the starting No.9 jersey in in Yokohama.

The side shows ten changes from the one that downed Georgia in their final warm-up, with Stuart McInally captaining from hooker, alongside clubmate WP Nel and Allan Dell while Jonny Gray is joined by Grant Gilchrist in the second row.

Ryan Wilson gets the nod at No.8 ahead of Blade Thomson with John Barclay and Hamish Watson the flankers.

Outside Laidlaw and Russell, Duncan Taylor continues his remarkable return from injury by starting at outside centre with Sam Johnson wearing No.12.

Tommy Seymour and Sean Maitland are the wingers, with Darcy Graham forced to settle for a bench spot and Stuart Hogg is the mainstay at full-back.

Townsend said: “In Ireland we face a quality opposition who, over the past number of years, have earned the right to be the number one ranked side in the world.

“We know them well and are well aware of the strengths they possess throughout their squad. We expect them to play very well, as they did in their most recent games against Wales, so only our best performance will do in order to win.

“The prospect of facing them in the opening round of a Rugby World Cup is a fantastic challenge for our players and supporters around the world.”

Scotland team to play Ireland
15. Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs) – 69 caps
14. Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors) – 52 caps
13. Duncan Taylor (Saracens) – 23 caps
12. Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors) – 6 caps
11. Sean Maitland (Saracens) – 42 caps
10. Finn Russell (Racing 92) – 46 caps
9. Greig Laidlaw VICE CAPTAIN (Clermont Auvergne) – 73 caps

1. Allan Dell (London Irish) – 25 caps
2. Stuart McInally CAPTAIN (Edinburgh) – 29 caps
3. Willem Nel (Edinburgh) – 31 caps
4. Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh) – 36 caps
5. Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors) – 52 caps
6. John Barclay VICE CAPTAIN (Edinburgh) – 74 caps
7. Hamish Watson (Edinburgh) – 27 caps
8. Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors) – 45 caps

Replacements:
16. Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) – 42 caps
17. Gordon Reid (Ayrshire Bulls) – 37 caps
18. Simon Berghan (Edinburgh) – 22 caps
19. Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors) – 4 caps
20. Blade Thomson (Scarlets) – 2 caps
21. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) – 27 caps
22. Chris Harris (Gloucester) – 10 caps
23. Darcy Graham (Edinburgh) – 7 caps

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