SCOTLAND have shaken up the club international side by naming 17 uncapped players in the squad to face Ireland in Ayr tonight.
The team, coached by Phil Leck of Hawick and Stirling’s Graeme Young, are seeking their first win in four years when they take to the Millbrae pitch this evening. Leading the charge is new skipper Mark Cairns, the Currie flanker who returns to the side after a three-year absence. He is joined in the starting line-up by just three fellow caps in Glasgow Hawks centre Dean Kelbrick, Gala’s London-bound stand-off Lee Millar, and Fraser Brown, the Heriot’s hooker.
Millar is partnered at half-back by his club colleague George Graham, while Currie full-back Jamie Forbes comes into the side for the first time along with Ayr winger Craig Gossman, and Heriot’s centre Max Learmonth.
Leck said: “We have gone for a mix of experience and youth in this side and put together a group of players we know are capable of executing our game-plan and winning.
“We want to play a quick, expansive game and the players have worked hard and bought into the tactics we have put in place. However, the challenge with playing at this level is you know very little about your opponents, so you have to adapt to what they bring to the match.”
The Irish have a very different make-up, with just two debutants in the side, St Mary’s College scrum-half Gavin Dunne and UCC lock Brian Quill. Captained again by Cork Constitution stand-off Gerry Hurley, they have also had a competitive run-out, beating England Counties 23-20 last month.
The club international has been a hugely popular introduction to the rugby calendar and, with free entry, Ayr are hopeful of attracting a big crowd tonight.
Scotland Club XV: J Forbes (Currie); C Gossman (Ayr), M Learmonth (Heriot’s), D Kelbrick (Ayr), C Robertson (Gala); L Millar (Gala), G Graham (Gala); R Hislop (Boroughmuir), Fraser Brown (Heriot’s), A Allan (Edinburgh Accies), M Douglas (Aberdeen Grammar), R Miller (Melrose), M Cairns (captain) (Currie), H Watson (Edinburgh Accies), A Nagle (Melrose). Replacements: K Bryce (Heriot’s), G Holborn (Melrose), L Pettie (Gala), J Hill (Heriot’s), G Graham (Gala), P Jericevich (Ayr), S Edwards (Stirling County).
Ireland Club XV: R Mullane (Shannon); C Aherne (Lansdowne), K Lett (Clontarf), S Morrow (Ballynahinch), D Fanning (St. Mary’s College); G Dunne (St Mary’s College), G Hurley (Cork Constitution) (capt); C McMahon (St Mary’s College), R Byrne (UCD), K Griffin (Shannon), B Quill (UCC), B Reilly (Clontarf), W Ryan (UCC), D Kenny (UCD), F Cogan (Clontarf). Replacements: P O’Regan (Old Belvedere), R Sweeney (St Mary’s College), C Butterworth (Lansdowne), S Grannell (UCD), S Cronin (Clontarf), D Lyons (Cork Constitution), F Horan (Lansdowne).