Who are the contenders to replace Finn Russell for Scotland's Six Nations opener v Ireland?

With Finn Russell ruled out of Scotland's opening Six Nations match against Ireland after a "breach of team protocol", coach Gregor Townsend must find a new stand-off for the clash in Dublin on 1 February. Here are the contenders:

Adam Hastings of Glasgow Warriors is in the box seat to replace Finn Russell for Scotland's Six Nations opener against Ireland. Picture: SNS

ADAM HASTINGS

The 23-year-old has emerged from the shadows of Finn Russell’s departure to Racing 92 to produce a string of fine performances for Glasgow Warriors this season. The son of former Scotland and Lions captain Gavin was fully expected to remain as the understudy at Test level but may now find that his 17th cap is in a pivotal role in the Aviva Stadium cauldron. A free-flowing, confidence player in the Russell mould, and also a fine goalkicker.

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PETE HORNE

The 30-year-old was left out of Gregor Townsend’s 38-man Six Nations squad last week but could now be drafted back in. Usually an inside centre, he has started only three of his 45 caps as a stand-off, although has played at No 10 many times for Glasgow. Viewed as defensively suspect on occasion, things haven’t always gone brilliantly for him in the Scotland No 10 jersey but he did produce a match-winning display in that position when he replaced a concussed Russell early in the 29-18 win over France at Murrayfield in 2016.

RORY HUTCHINSON

Now established as a centre, the former Scotland under-20 stand-off can still cover that position and has been in great form for Northampton. Many observers felt he was unlucky not to make it into the Scotland World Cup squad after some fine showings in the warm-up games. Hutchison occupied the stand-off jersey for all five games of the 2015 Under-20 Six Nations Championship, in which Scotland recorded their highest ever tournament finish of third.

DUNCAN WEIR

His finest hour in a Scotland No 10 jersey came with that famous late drop-goal winner against Italy in Rome six years ago. The last of his 27 caps was won against the same opponents at Murrayfield back in 2017. The emergence of Russell saw him transferred to Edinburgh in a bid to give him more game time and he has subsequently moved on to Worcester. A more expansive player than his reputation suggests, he is more of an old-school game manager than an electric maverick.

STUART HOGG

It would be the bombshell choice but is not completely beyond the bounds of reason. The new Scotland captain has played the position, most notably for the British and Lions on against a Combined Country XV on the tour of Australia in 2013. Now firmly established as a world-class full-back, a switch to No 10 would be unlikely, although it is interesting to read back the quotes from seven years ago from one Andy Farrell, then assistant Lions and now new Ireland head coach. “Stuart’s doing what a fly-half should do - dictating and putting them in the right place. If you understand what he’s about and what his make-up is, he wants to get in there at first receiver and organise.”