Gregor Townsend has named his Scotland side to face Ireland this weekend at the Aviva Stadium and the starting XV only contains five players that started in their last outing versus Japan at the World Cup.
Retirements and injuries in the wake of the RWC have forced Townsend’s hand when making this selection, not to mention Finn Russell’s recent misdemeanour which has seen him banned.
With that being said, many players that will start in Dublin are being rewarded for their good form over the past few months.
Edinburgh’s summer signing Nick Haining, who joined from Premiership outfit Bristol, is a surprising call at No8, but one that equally warrants a start which will be his first cap for Scotland.
The 29-year-old is slightly fortuitous with injuries to Magnus Bradbury, Blade Thomson and Matt Fagerson, but there would still be a compelling case for him to start, which many Scotland fans have said.
(Continue reading below…)
Jamie Joseph is desperate to avoid a club versus country conflict in Japan
The Australian-born loose forward has competed with Bill Mata for the eight shirt this season in Edinburgh, which is a good indication of where his game is at the moment as he has been able to hold the Fijian back.
Although his age may concern some, particularly at the beginning of a new RWC cycle, Scotland supporters have highlighted that form players should play, regardless of the circumstances.
I missed he was injured. Haining deserves his chance, let's hope he is the big carrying number 8 we have lacked in many games
— Martin welsh (@accts_cowboy) January 30, 2020
I like it.
There are obviously a few names missing but this is a good squad.
Good to see Haining and Sutherland get a start. Same with Hutch on the bench.
Two years ago I thought Cornell’s career was over so it’s nice to see him back. https://t.co/ZQibcUMIOI
— Alexander Thomson (@TaysideThomson) January 30, 2020
If all three no.8s were available for Edinburgh right now I'd be picking Haining.
For Scotland well, let's rule out BBM, and Cockerill doesn't even pick Bradbury at 8 very often. He is the future but he's also injured. CDP has never done quite enough consistently enough for me
— Burgh Watch (@theburghwatch) January 30, 2020
Nice to see form players getting nod; Sutherland, Haining and Jones. Also Hutch on bench. Given all thats going on this team has a feel good factor. Massive day for Adam Hastings…think he can do it ????????
— Ian (@RugbyMccaw) January 30, 2020
In the backs, Huw Jones has also been praised for bouncing back after the disappointment of missing out on the RWC. The outside centre is starting to produce the kind of performances for Glasgow Warriors that he showed when he first arrived at Scotstoun.
Good looking team?????????
Delighted to see Huw Jones back…he’s really on form again!
Great opportunity for Adam Hastings to shine!
Disappointed that Duncan Weir didn’t make the bench.
Curious about WP Nel…injured maybe?
All in all though…a good team???????
— Alan Carroll (@AlanWantsIndy) January 30, 2020
That’s a great looking team! A really strong pack that should have plenty of bite and aggression. Talented set of backs! Great to see the back on form Huw Jones starting and great to see Hutchinson in there.
— Winedown (@winedownpreston) January 30, 2020
Jones is starting ahead of Rory Hutchinson, who is yet another player that has been spurred on after missing out on the RWC.
He is also having an impressive campaign with Northampton Saints and will have a fascinating battle with Jones to see who will start throughout the tournament and indeed the coming years.
With a lot of disruptions leading into the Six Nations for Scotland, chiefly the Russell debacle, pressure has mounted on Townsend. But he can now hope that his players bring the form they have shown for their clubs this season to the national team.
WATCH: World Rugby have added pressure on teams to improve their results in 2020
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.