ANDY FARRELL showed he is prepared to make the tough choices for Ireland as he named his first team as head coach.
There was no room for sentiment as Munster’s Keith Earls failed to make the match day squad.
Cork’s Peter O’Mahony was another one of the casualties. A starter under Joe Schmidt, O’Mahony will be on the bench at the Aviva on Saturday, 5.45pm as provincial team mate CJ Stander takes his place at six with debutant Caelen Doris starting at number eight.
Form was certainly a consideration for Doris’ selection but Conor Murray can consider himself lucky as he was named at the starting nine despite his indifferent form.
Despite not playing in almost two months, Johnny Sexton has been declared fit to captain the team as has Jordan Larmour who will start at full back.
One of the surprise selections is at 12 with Bundee Aki getting the nod over Robbie Henshaw in another tight call from the head coach.
Rob Herring gets the nod at hooker and the South African-born Ulster player joins established props Cian Healy, who fought off the in-form loosehead in the country at the moment Dave Kilcoyne, and Tadhg Furlong, with James Ryan and Iain Henderson renewing their partnership in the second-row.
That engine room should certainly give Ireland plenty of quick ball for Farrell’s backs to work off against a Scottish side who will be shorn of inspirational Finn Russell for disciplinary reasons.
Devin Toner is recalled from the international wilderness and will be the fall-back guy for second row and that second row will be flanked by Doris, CJ Stander, and Josh van der Flier.
Leinster hooker Ronan Kelleher will win his first cap off the bench, with Kilcoyne and Andrew Porter covering the front row.
IRELAND (v Scotland): J Larmour (Leinster); A Conway (Munster), G Ringrose (Leinster), B Aki (Connacht), J Stockdale (Ulster); J Sexton (Leinster, c), C Murray (Munster); C Healy (Leinster), R Herring (Ulster), T Furlong (Leinster); I Henderson (Ulster), J Ryan (Leinster); CJ Stander (Munster), J van der Flier (Leinster), C Doris (Leinster).
Subs: R Kelleher (Leinster), D Kilcoyne (Munster), A Porter (Leinster), D Toner (Leinster), P O’Mahony (Munster), J Cooney (Ulster), R Byrne (Leinster), R Henshaw (Leinster).