Scotland’s Kinghorn excited by ‘big surprise’ of first Test start

Scotland's Kinghorn excited by 'big surprise' of first Test start
Blair Kinghorn came on for the last 15 minutes of Scotland’s Calcutta Cup win over England
Six Nations: Ireland v Scotland
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Date: Saturday, 10 March Kick-off: 14:15 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, BBC Radio Ulster, BBC Radio Scotland & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary.

Edinburgh full-back Blair Kinghorn says it came as a “big surprise” to be named in the Scotland team for Saturday’s Six Nations match against Ireland.

Kinghorn, 21, will make his first Test start after a debut as a replacement in the 25-13 victory over England.

He replaces the injured Tommy Seymour on the right wing in the only change to the side that won the Calcutta Cup.

“We were just at the team meeting and [head coach] Gregor [Townsend] pulled me aside and told me,” Kinghorn said.

“It was a big surprise but a chance I am really excited for. I quickly let my parents know, but I’ve not looked at my phone just yet.”

Kinghorn will move from his customary full-back position to take over from Seymour out wide and is prepared to be targeted by the Irish – in particular, the kicking game of half-backs Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton.

“That’s just expected with their gameplan and the role of the winger is to diffuse that,” he said.

“We’ve been working hard on all our skills throughout the week, so come game time, we’ll be ready.

“I feel quite comfortable on the wing. I’ve run in there a couple of times, been training there most of the time I’ve been with the squad.

“I’m looking forward to it; hopefully it will be a good game.”

Townsend is confident Kinghorn, who has scored 13 tries in 59 appearances for Edinburgh since his debut as an 18-year-old in October 2015, will handle the pressure when he takes to the field at the Aviva Stadium.

Half-backs Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray have been key figures in Ireland’s success in recent years

The Scotland head coach also believes shutting down the Murray-Sexton axis will be key to his side’s hopes of making it three Six Nations wins in a row.

“Getting in their groove, either through kicking or through getting the team going forward with ball in hand, they’re excellent,” Townsend explained.

“Conor Murray must be one of the best scrum-halves in the world, if not the best. Johnny Sexton, when he’s fit and available, is up there with the best 10s.

“They’ve played well together, they know the system of how Ireland want to play, so we’ve got to make it tough for them.”

Townsend was hoping for repeat of last season’s win over Ireland at Murrayfield.

“The players did that really well here on Conor Murray and we’ve got to make sure that Johnny Sexton doesn’t get time on the ball, that his options get cut down and, any time they kick, they’re under huge pressure,” he added.

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