Hastings steps in for Russell for Scotland Six Nations opener

Fly-half Adam Hastings has been given the task of replacing Finn Russell while Edinburgh number eight Nick Haining will make his debut as Scotland kick-off their Six Nations campaign against Ireland on Saturday.

Russell was told he would not be involved at the Aviva Stadium after being disciplined following a drinking session.

It is unclear whether the Racing 92 star will feature at all during this year’s championship but Hastings will get his chance to impress after being handed the number 10 jersey for the Dublin opener.

Australian-born Haining will win his first cap against Andy Farrell’s team while Edinburgh prop Rory Sutherland will make his first international appearance in three-and-a-half years.

Back-rower Hamish Watson and scrum-half Ali Price — both injured in the Scots’ opening World Cup clash with Ireland in September — make their return to Gregor Townsend’s team while there is also a comeback for Huw Jones at centre after he missed the cut for the tournament in Japan.

The match will also see Stuart Hogg lead out the team for the first time since being handed the Scotland captaincy on a permanent basis.

Ireland swept Townsend’s team aside 27-3 in Yokohama and the coach is looking for a major improvement this weekend.

Townsend, who has spent the week in Spain preparing his team, said: “We have managed to cover a lot of work in the two weeks we’ve been together and we’ve been impressed with how our players have taken on information and bonded as a team.

“Our goal is always to play to our potential. The challenge to do this starts on Saturday against Ireland.

“Playing to our potential starts with our collective mindset. That means being alert, focused and resilient right from the beginning, to be ready for the physical battle that lies ahead and able to stay in the fight throughout the 80 minutes.”

Townsend added: “We must be a relentless collective on the pitch and a nightmare for the Irish to deal with, while having the ability and awareness to impose our game at that intensity.”

Scotland team (15-1)

Stuart Hogg (capt); Sean Maitland, Huw Jones, Sam Johnson, Blair Kinghorn; Adam Hastings, Ali Price; Nick Haining, Hamish Watson, Jamie Ritchie; Jonny Gray, Scott Cummings; Zander Fagerson, Fraser Brown, Rory Sutherland

Replacments: Stuart McInally, Allan Dell, Simon Berghan, Ben Toolis, Cornell du Preez, George Horne, Rory Hutchinson, Chris Harris

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