Scots summon Cross

Wed, 20 Feb 2013 14:00
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Prop forward Geoff Cross has been called up into the Scotland side for Sunday's Six Nations international against Ireland.

Prop forward Geoff Cross has been called up into the Scotland side for Sunday's Six Nations international against Ireland at Murrayfield in the only change to the side that beat Italy earlier this month.

Euan Murray, following in the footsteps of Scotland rugby and athletics great Eric Liddell and New Zealand's 1987 World Cup-winner Michael Jones, refuses to play on Sundays because of his Christian beliefs.

And that led Scotland's Australian interim head coach, Scott Johnson, to select Edinburgh front row Cross in Murray's place at tighthead prop on Wednesday in the only change to the side that defeated Italy 34-10 at Murrayfield last time out.

Cross will be looking to follow-on from his try-scoring exploits against world champions New Zealand when he last started for his country.

Meanwhile Dougie Hall has recovered from the knee injury he sustained in Scotland's opening defeat by England and is restored as replacement hooker.

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

Alastair Kellock will become the 34th Scotland player to reach the landmark of 50 caps if he comes off the bench this weekend.

"We have to improve on our last game and that's been our theme at training all week," said Johnson, who once more stressed the importance of Scotland dominating at the breakdown.

"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 head into the weekend's third round of Six Nations matches second behind unbeaten leaders England.

Ireland, fourth in the standings after a 12-6 loss at home to England, were due to name their side later on Wednesday.

Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Sean Lamont, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Greig Laidlaw, 8 Johnnie Beattie, 7 Kelly Brown (captain), 6 Robert Harley, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Geoff Cross, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Ryan Grant.
Replacements: 16 Dougie Hall, 17 Jon Welsh, 18 Moray Low, 19 Alastair Kellock, 20 David Denton, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Duncan Weir, 23 Max Evans.

Date: Sunday, February 24
Venue: Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Kick-off: 14.00 (14.00 GMT)
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Jérôme Garces (France), Greg Garner (England)
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France)

AFP

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