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Kinghorn dropped for Irish clash as Scots go for experience instead

Benched: Blair Kinghorn will be a substitute for Scotland
Benched: Blair Kinghorn will be a substitute for Scotland

By Andy Newport

Gregor Townsend admits he was racked with second thoughts as he weighed up whether to drop hat-trick hero Blair Kinghorn for tomorrow's crucial Guinness Six Nations crunch with Ireland.

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In the end, the Dark Blues head coach opted to go with experienced wing campaigner Sean Maitland to face Joe Schmidt's men at Murrayfield as Kinghorn was consoled with a place on the bench.

The 22-year-old Edinburgh star became the first Scottish player for 30 years to score a Championship treble as he ran in three times against Italy last weekend.

And Townsend admits his stunning display against the Azzurri forced a rethink on his plan to recall Maitland after his recovery from the hamstring injury that saw him miss the Scots' opening win.

But he was ultimately swayed by the experience offered by the Saracens wing as he plots a way to down an Ireland line-up still ranked second in the world despite last week's set-back against England.

Asked how tough a call it was to leave Kinghorn out, Townsend said: "More difficult than what we planned it was going to be the week before.

"We were always hoping Sean would get back fit for this game. Sean would have been starting against Italy with Tommy Seymour if he'd been fit.

"Blair's performance did mean that we had an extended discussion that probably went on a second day, but we believe that Tommy and Sean are best equipped for this game.

"They've been on excellent form for Scotland. Sean just missed out because of injury, but he's been playing very well, and Tommy played well at the weekend and has played in these games before.

"But nothing should be taken away from Blair's performance and what he could do if he was selected this week.

"Players take (being dropped) differently - sometimes they're quiet, sometimes they're accepting and sometimes they argue back. Blair was quiet. He'll be disappointed, I know."

Townsend also has key second-rower Jonny Gray back from injury while hooker Fraser Brown is named on the bench.

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