Scott Johnson all laughs again as Scotland name strong side v Ireland

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Coach Logic

Scott Johnson has named his Scotland side to face Ireland on Sunday, and includes nine Glasgow Warriors in the XV, alongside just three Edinburgh players.

All of which ought to tell you that there are a further three players plying their trade outside of Scotland, Jim Hamilton of Montpelleir, and the Saracens dup of Duncan Taylor at 12 and Kelly Brown, who captains the side from the openside flank.

Joining brown in the back row are David Denton and Ryan Wilson. Wilson, the Glasgow Warriors number 8, is selected at six, with Denton preferred ahead of Montpellier’s Johnnie Beattie at number eight, Beattie will sit on the bench.

Partnering his clubmate Jim Hamilton in the second row is Glasgow’s Tim Swinson, meaning that Richie Gray must make do with a place on the bench. Gray’s brother Jonny, incidentally, will be captaining the Scotland A team against the England Saxons.

In the front row Ryan Grant and Ross Ford team up at loosehead and hooker respectively, while Moray Low is selected ahead of Geoff Cross at loosehead. Joining Cross on the bench in the front row are Alasdair Dickinson and Glasgow hooker Pat MacArthur.

In the backs Greig Laidlaw retains his place at scrum half ahead of Chris Cusiter, while Duncan Weir is selected ahead of Ruaraidh Jackson, with Jackson even missing out on a bench spot.

In the centres Alex Dunbar partners the Saracen, Duncan Taylor. There is good new there for Scotland though as Matt Scott has been deemed fit enough for a place on the bench, alongside Castres flyer Max Evans.

The back three is where the real excitement will happen for Scotland though, with the all Warriors selection of the two Sean’s, Maitland and Lamont on the wing, and Stuart Hogg at full back. Given Maitland and Hogg’s Lions experience this should be an area of real strength, as Interim Head Coach Scott Johnson said:

“We can go the length with that back three. For a seasoned campaigner, Sean Lamont has some legs still. His form over the last 24 months for us has been outstanding, especially his work off the ball.”

“Like something in my wine cabinet, he’s certainly getting better with age.”

Johnson, always a joy to listen too, also had some rather bizarre words of praise for his new fly half, Duncan Weir, as well as commiserations for the unfortunate Jackson:

“When I first saw him, Duncan was a short little fat kid, but to be fair he’s physically changed and looks dramatically different, he is a natural kicker of the ball and he’s developed into a genuine threat.”

“Both of them have got to solidify their spot at Glasgow too, but we think Duncan’s skill set suits what we’re trying to achieve in this game against Ireland more than Jacko.”

“And I didn’t want someone on the bench who could only play one position. Jacko has had knocks in his career before but always comes back – and he’ll do so again.”

What do you think of the Scotland XV? Is it good enough to beat Ireland, and can they mount a title challenge? Perhaps more important, are they on an upward curve or are they still struggling? Let us know via the comment box below, or via @FifteenRugbyXV

Scotland XV:

15 Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors) 
14 Sean Maitland (Glasgow Warriors)
 13 Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors) 
12 Duncan Taylor (Saracens) 
11 Sean Lamont (Glasgow Warriors)
 10 Duncan Weir (Glasgow Warriors) 
9 Greig Laidlaw (Edinburgh Rugby);  1 Ryan Grant (Glasgow Warriors)
 2 Ross Ford (Edinburgh Rugby) 
3 Moray Low (Glasgow Warriors)
 4 Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors)
 5 Jim Hamilton (Montpellier)
 6 Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors)
 7 Kelly Brown (Saracens, captain)  8 David Denton (Edinburgh Rugby).

Replacements: 16 Pat MacArthur (Glasgow Warriors) 
17 Alasdair Dickinson (Edinburgh Rugby)
 18 Geoff Cross (Edinburgh Rugby)
 19 Richie Gray (Castres)
 20 Johnnie Beattie (Montpellier) 
21 Chris Cusiter (Glasgow Warriors)
 22 Matt Scott (Edinburgh Rugby)
 23 Max Evans (Castres).

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