Rugged Cross returns

Geoff Cross, the 30-year-old Edinburgh Rugby prop, returns to the Scotland starting line-up for Sunday’s RBS 6 Nations Championship meeting with Ireland at Murrayfield.

Cross, who scored a try against New Zealand in his last start for Scotland, is the only change from the team that began the 34-10 victory over Italy earlier this month. Cross replaces Euan Murray, the Worcester tight-head, who is unavailable for this weekend as a result of his Christian faith.

Meanwhile on the bench, Dougie Hall has recovered from the knee injury he sustained against England and is restored as replacement hooker.

His Glasgow Warriors team-mate, prop Jon Welsh, also wins a place on the bench, his first involvement in a matchday 23 since he returned home early from last summer’s tour to the South Pacific to undergo shoulder surgery.

Alastair Kellock will become the 34th Scot to reach the landmark of 50 caps for his country if he is introduced to the action from the bench.

Scotland interim head coach Scott Johnson said: “We have to improve on our last game and that’s been our theme at training all week.

“I make no apology for saying again that we have to step up our work in the contact area.  Yes, we’ve some talented athletes in the squad , but we have to give them the opportunities.

“It’s good to see players challenging for selection – and there are a number consistently putting their hands up, which is exactly what we want to see.

“But we’ve kept changes to a minimum and are saying to the players: ‘You’ve won one game. Now go out show us you can win another’.”

Scotland team (sponsor RBS) to play Ireland in the RBS 6 Nations Championship on  Sunday 24 February  at Murrayfield (kick-off 2pm)
15 Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors) 12 caps, 3 tries, 15 points

14 Sean Maitland (Glasgow Warriors) 2 caps, 1 try, 5 points
13 Sean Lamont (Glasgow Warriors) 73 caps, 9 tries, 45 points
12 Matt Scott (Edinburgh Rugby) 9 caps, 1 try, 5 points
11 Tim Visser (Edinburgh Rugby) 7 caps, 5 tries, 25 points

10 Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow Warriors) 17 caps, 2 conversions, 2 penalties, 2 drop-goals, 16 points
9 Greig Laidlaw (Edinburgh Rugby) vice-captain, 15 caps, 2 tries, 16 conversions and 26 penalties, 120 points

1 Ryan Grant (Glasgow Warriors) vice-captain, 7 caps
2 Ross Ford (Edinburgh Rugby) 65 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
3 Geoff Cross (Edinburgh Rugby) 18 caps, 1 try, 5 points
4 Richie Gray (Sale Sharks) 29 caps, 1 try, 5 points
5 Jim Hamilton (Gloucester) 43 caps, 1 try, 5 points
6 Robert Harley (Glasgow Warriors) 2 caps, 1 try, 5 points
7 Kelly Brown (Saracens) captain, 54 caps, 4 tries, 20 points
8 Johnnie Beattie (Montpellier) 18 caps, 3 tries, 15 points

16 Dougie Hall (Glasgow Warriors), 40 caps, 1 try, 5 points
17 Jon Welsh (Glasgow Warriors), 1 cap
18 Moray Low (Glasgow Warriors) 16 caps
19 Alastair Kellock (Glasgow Warriors) 49 caps, 1 try, 5 points
20 David Denton (Edinburgh Rugby) 11 caps
21 Henry Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors) 5 caps, 1 try, 5 points
22 Duncan Weir (Glasgow Warriors) 2 caps, 1 conversion, 2 points
23 Max Evans (Castres) 34 caps, 3 tries, 15 points

Unavailable through injury: Alasdair Strokosch (Perpignan), Chris Cusiter and Chris Fusaro (Glasgow Warriors), Grant Gilchrist and Ross Rennie (both Edinburgh Rugby).

Referee: Wayne Barnes (England).  Assistant referees: Jerome Garces (France) and Greg Garner (England).  TMO: Eric Gauzins (France)