This Scotland XV could give Schmidt's Ireland a better game than Wales did

Meanwhile, Connacht have named their side for the pre-season friendly in Castres.

Updated at 19.00 

VERN COTTER HAS handed Kiwi native Hugh Blake a debut for Scotland against Ireland on Saturday, despite the back row having played only three times for Edinburgh since making the move from New Zealand earlier this year.

Scotland team huddle The next step for Ireland is beating Vern Cotter's Scotland. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

22-year-old Blake is a former Kiwi underage international, but qualifies to play for the Scots through his Glaswegian grandparents. His move to Scotland caused some controversy, with many arguing that the current international eligibility rules must be changed.

Blake has played international rugby for Scotland in the sevens game since making the switch and was part of the extended Six Nations squad this year, while he has signed for Gregor Townsend’s Glasgow Warriors ahead of the 2015/16 season.

The flanker is a former Otago player who featured for the New Zealand U20s at the 2012 Junior World Championships. He makes his Scotland debut in the seven shirt.

Cotter has gone for an experimental line-up for the visit to Dublin on Saturday (KO 17.00), with Greig Tonks at out-half alongside captain Henry Pyrgos.

Peter Horne and former back row Richie Vernon are in the midfield, while Tim Visser, Sean Lamont and Ruaridh Jackson line up in the back three.

Dave Denton and Blair Cowan complete an abrasive back row along with Blake, while the ever-improving Grant Gilchrist and annoyer-in-chief Jim Hamilton form the lock partnership. Ryan Grant, Fraser Brown and Jon Welsh occupy the front row.

Scotland (v Ireland):

15. Ruaridh Jackson
14. Sean Lamont
13. Richie Vernon
12. Peter Horne
11. Tim Visser
10. Greig Tonks
9. Henry Pyrgos (captain)

1. Ryan Grant
2. Fraser Brown
3. Jon Welsh
4. Jim Hamilton
5. Grant Gilchrist
6. Blair Cowan
7. Hugh Blake
8. Dave Denton


16. Ross Ford
17. Gordon Reid
18. Mike Cusack
19. Rob Harley
20. John Barclay
21. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne
22. Duncan Weir
23. Matt Scott


Meanwhile, Connacht coach Pat Lam has included Ireland international Kieran Marmion on the bench for tomorrow’s pre-season clash with Castres in Saint-Affrique (KO 19.00 Irish time).

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Kieran Marmion Kieran Marmion is part of the Connacht squad to face Castres. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The scrum-half was released from Ireland camp for the weekend in order to amass game time, with Isaac Boss preferred to start the Scotland game and Eoin Reddan providing back-up in Joe Schmidt’s matchday 23.

Centre Rory Parata will make his first start for the province on the day of his 21st birthday, while John Cooney and Shane O’Leary lead the team from the halfback positions.

Connacht (v Castres):

15. Darragh Leader
14. Tiernan O’Halloran
13. Rory Parata
12. Bundee Aki
11. Danie Poolman
10. Shane O’Leary
9. John Cooney

1. Finlay Bealham
2. Dave Heffernan
3. Rodney Ah You
4. Ben Marshall
5. Danny Qualter
6. Eoin McKeon
7. Nepia Fox-Matamua
8. Eoghan Masterson (captain)


Denis Buckley
Tom McCartney
Shane Delahunt
Quinn Roux
Ultan Dillane
Andrew Browne
John Muldoon
James Connolly
Fionn Carr
Matt Healy
Api Pewharangi
Jack Carty
Craig Ronaldson
Kieran Marmion

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