SCOTLAND coach Vern Cotter will be tempted to throw a couple of new faces into the starting line-up when he names his team today to face Ireland – to give the side a boost both physically and psychologically.
There are a few injury concerns that could still necessitate change but it looks as though Matt Scott’s dead leg will recover in time for him to take his place at inside centre at BT Murrayfield on Saturday. Otherwise, Cotter would presumably have already called upon Saracens’ Duncan Taylor. Scott had a mixed time of it in the 25-13 loss to England at Twickenham but, at his best, he is a class act and the midfielder will be all the better for his 80 minutes last weekend.
Glasgow’s Adam Ashe made his mark in the two November internationals against Argentina and New Zealand and could be introduced to the back row to take on the Irish in an area where the visitors expect to be dominant.
Ashe and soon to be Scotland qualified Josh Strauss may take the six and eight shirts in the World Cup later this year and Cotter must be tempted to start Ashe on Saturday after a successful match off the bench against England, in an effort to keep a lid on the likes of Peter O’Mahony and Sean O’Brien.
In the front five there are a couple of injury concerns in the first and second rows that may see Glasgow loosehead Ryan Grant get the nod over Alasdair Dickinson. Grant has been a peripheral figure since the infamous “kebab shop incident” and has not started an international since the Welsh thumping a year ago. If Grant gets the start he will be doubly keen to make headlines for the right reasons.
Elsewhere the selectors have all too few options to tinker with the backs, although several will have to make better efforts in defence if they want to make it into the World Cup squad.