Gregor Townsend has named Duncan Taylor and Sam Johnson together at centre for Scotland’s Rugby World Cup clash with Ireland.
The two sides meet in Yokohama on Sunday, with Ireland heading into the tournament as the top-ranked nation in the world.
Scotland coach Townsend has opted for a centre pairing who have played together only once, while Exeter Chiefs full-back Stuart Hogg features in the back three alongside Sean Maitland and Tommy Seymour.
Townsend is anticipating a tough test for his side’s opening match, but is excited by the challenge.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
British and Irish Lions duo Greig Laidlaw and Finn Russell return at scrum-half and stand-off respectively, with 10 changes made from the side that defeated Georgia earlier this month.
Your Scotland team to play Ireland in this Sunday’s Rugby World Cup Pool A opener in Yokohama has been announced!
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) September 20, 2019
Scotland team to face Ireland: Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Duncan Taylor, Sam Johnson, Sean Maitland, Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw; Allan Dell, Stuart McInally, Willem Nel, Grant Gilchrist, Jonny Gray, John Barclay, Hamish Watson, Ryan Wilson.
Replacements: Fraser Brown, Gordon Reid, Simon Berghan, Scott Cummings, Blade Thomson, Ali Price, Chris Harris, Darcy Graham.
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