Jones starts for Scotland

Date published: February 2 2017

Scotland head coach Vern Cotter has made three changes to his starting XV for Saturday’s Six Nations clash with Ireland at Murrayfield.

Stormers centre Huw Jones is back in the starting line-up in place of Mark Bennett, having recovered from the foot injury that ruled him out of the team’s third and final autumn test match against Georgia in November.

Jones hit the headlines when he became the first Scot to score a brace against Australia in his first start before being injured in the act of creating a try for Sean Maitland against Argentina a week later.

Jones will reform the midfield partnership he forged in those two tests with Alex Dunbar in between returning half backs Greig Laidlaw and Finn Russell, and the back-three trio of Stuart Hogg, Sean Maitland and Tommy Seymour, who contributed half of Scotland’s 10-try tally in the autumn.

The remaining changes are in the pack which sees Glasgow Warriors hooker Fraser Brown promoted from the bench in place of cap centurion Ross Ford and Josh Strauss (back-row) replaces club-mate Rob Harley.

Strauss’ inclusion at number eight sees Ryan Wilson make a positional switch to the blindside of the back-row, with Hamish Watson holding down the openside role he occupied throughout the autumn.

Second-row brothers Jonny and Richie Gray return to the boiler house with young props Allan Dell and Zander Fagerson packing down either side of Brown in the front-row.

There are four further changes to the bench, with Edinburgh tighthead Simon Berghan in line for a test debut if called upon from the replacements.

Elsewhere, Tim Swinson, Duncan Weir and Bennett occupy the remaining back replacement spots in place of Grant Gilchrist and injured Warriors pair Pete Horne and Rory Hughes.

Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 Tommy Seymour, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Ryan Wilson, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Allan Dell
Replacements: 16 Ross Ford, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 John Barclay, 21 Ali Price, 22 Duncan Weir, 23 Mark Bennett

Date: Saturday, February 4
Venue: Murrayfield
Kick-off: 14:25 GMT
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant Referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Nick Briant (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)


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