Six Nations: Johnson starts as Scotland make four changes for Ireland clash

Sam Johnson will make his first start for Scotland in this year's Six Nations tournament. Photo by Giuseppe Maffia/SNS Group via Getty Images

Scotland have made four changes, including a first runout in this year's Six Nations for centre Sam Johnson, as coach Gregor Townsend on Thursday named his side to face Ireland at Murrayfield on Sunday.

In the pack, prop WP Nel comes in at tighthead while Jamie Ritchie returns at blindside flanker.

- Play ESPN's Rugby Pick'em for FREE

Winger Sean Maitland is the other change from the side that narrowly lost to Wales in their last outing on Feb. 13.

Simon Berghan, Jamie Bhatti, Grant Gilchrist and Nick Haining were named among the replacements and could also play their first test of the year.

"We are well aware of the threats posed by an experienced Ireland squad and our players have prepared for a contest they know is going to require one of their best performances," Townsend said.

"We had prepared well for our postponed game against France, and the players have adapted well to the change of plans and have brought real energy and focus to our training sessions this week."

The match against France is yet to be rearranged. It was called off after the French camp was hit by an COVID-19 outbreak.

Scotland team:

Starting XV:

Stuart Hogg (capt), Sean Maitland, Chris Harris, Sam Johnson, Duhan van der Merwe, Finn Russell, Ali Price, Rory Sutherland, George Turner, WP Nel, Scott Cummings, Jonny Gray, Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Matt Fagerson.

Replacements: David Cherry, Jamie Bhatti, Simon Berghan, Grant Gilchrist, Nick Haining, Scott Steele, Huw Jones, Darcy Graham.