Six Nations: Scotland change four for Ireland opener
Last Updated: 29/01/14 8:06pm
Stuart Hogg: Restored to Scotland line-up
Scotland have made four changes and one positional switch to their starting XV for their Six Nations opener against Ireland in Dublin on Sunday.
Stuart Hogg returns at full-back having missed the November Tests through injury, and the second of three changes to the back-line which started against Australia in November sees Glasgow's Alex Dunbar preferred to Nick De Luca in the centre.
Sean Maitland, who scored on his first outing in the Championship in the opening game last season, moves to the right wing in place of Tommy Seymour to accommodate Hogg at full-back.
In the pack Tim Swinson wins the nod over Grant Gilchrist in the second-row and a fourth Glasgow Warrior, Ryan Wilson, is chosen at blindside flanker instead of Johnnie Beattie.
Dunbar, Swinson and Wilson will be making their first Six Nations starts and the same goes for Duncan Taylor at inside centre.
Scotland will be captained by Kelly Brown, who will be winning his 61st cap, equalling Doddie Weir's record as the most-capped product of the Melrose club.
Head coach Scott Johnson said: "The forwards especially were a hard pick but we're happy. We believe we've got a good combination to go in against formidable opposition."
In the backs Johnson is looking forward to his back three of Hogg, Sean Lamont and Maitland making an impression at the Aviva Stadium.
"We can go the length with that back three," he said. "For a seasoned campaigner Sean Lamont has some leg 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."
The return of British & Irish Lions tourist Hogg is a big boost to the Scots.
"Hoggy is a senior player now for being such a young lad and I'm glad he's with us, and not the other sides," he said.
"I'm glad also that his form has started to turn. Some people take a while after a Lions tour, especially the young ones, to get back in the swing of things.
"Stuart has taken a wee while, probably longer than he wanted, to find his feet. He's had some time off in the autumn with the injury and has come back to some form lately. He's buoyed by that and so are we."
Scotland: 15 Hogg, 14 Maitland, 13 Dunbar, 12 Taylor, 11 Lamont, 10 Weir, 9 Laidlaw, 1 Grant, 2 Ford, 3 Low, 4 Swinson, 5 Hamilton, 6 Wilson, 7 Brown, 8 Denton
Replacements: 16 MacArthur, 17 Dickinson, 18 Cross, 19 Gray, 20 Beattie, 21 Cusiter, 22 Scott, 23 Evans