Jack Dempsey earns starting spot as Scotland take on Ireland

Jack Dempsey at Scotland training session during 2023 Six Nations Jack Dempsey is one of two changes to the Scotland team (Adam Davy/PA)

Jack Dempsey will make his first Six Nations start for Scotland on Sunday after Gregor Townsend made two changes to his starting XV for the BT Murrayfield showdown with Ireland.

Lock Jonny Gray is the other player added to the team, with Hamish Watson dropping to the bench and Grant Gilchrist suspended after his red card in the last match away to France.

Dempsey made his Scotland debut in the autumn after a recent change in world rugby’s eligibility rules allowed the Glasgow Warriors player to switch allegiance from his native Australia.

The 28-year-old will wear the number eight jersey, with Matt Fagerson moving to fill the flanker position vacated by Watson.

Gray, who came on early in Paris following Gilchrist’s dismissal, will continue in the second row alongside his older brother Richie. The younger Gray will also assume vice-captain duties.

There are no changes among the backs, meaning full-back Stuart Hogg will win his 100th cap.

Among the replacements, Scott Cummings is included in the 23-man squad for the first time in this championship after recovering from injury, while Chris Harris is on the bench after being left out altogether against France.

Scotland team to play Ireland

Forwards: 1 Pierre Schoeman (Edinburgh Rugby), 2 George Turner (Glasgow Warriors), 3 Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors), 4 Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors), 5 Jonny Gray (Exeter Chiefs), 6 Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors), 7 Jamie Ritchie (CAPTAIN, Edinburgh Rugby), 8 Jack Dempsey (Glasgow Warriors)

Backs: 9 Ben White (London Irish), 10 Finn Russell (Racing 92), 11 Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh Rugby), 12 Sione Tuipulotu (Glasgow Warriors), 13 Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors), 14 Kyle Steyn (Glasgow Warriors), 15 Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs)

Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors), 17 Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors), 18 Simon Berghan (Glasgow Warriors), 19 Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors), 20 Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby), 21 Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors), 22 Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Rugby), 23 Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby)

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