Johnnie Beattie will start for Scotland A this Friday as he looks to continue his push for a remarkable recall to the senior starting line up.
Beattie missed the first 11 games of the current Magners League season after undergoing shoulder surgery in the summer.
The 25-year-old was a star performer in Glasgow’s march to the inaugural Magners League Play-Offs and in Scotland’s victories over Ireland and Argentina last year but his hopes of playing any part in the forthcoming Six Nations appeared limited due to his injury setback.
Beattie finally made his comeback in the narrow defeat at Magners League leaders Munster earlier this month but he hasn’t played for the Warriors since after an administrative mix up left him unable to feature in European competition.
But despite his lack of game time at the highest level, Beattie won a place in Andy Robinson’s Six Nations squad and has now been named to start for his country’s second string against Ireland Wolfhounds this weekend.
A strong performance could see Beattie force his way into the first team for the tournament opener against France in a week-and-a-half’s time, an objective five other members of the senior squad will also be hoping to achieve after joining Beattie in Friday’s line up.
Scott MacLeod, Greig Laidlaw and Dougie Hall all start for Scotland A, while Moray Low and Rob Harley, who required nine stitches following Glasgow’s win over the Dragons at the weekend, are named among the replacements.
"There's a definite added incentive for our guys knowing they're being watched with the RBS 6 Nations Championship in mind, but, as we've been saying to them all week, their most important performance is their next one, and that's for Scotland A on Friday,” said Scotland A coach Nick Scrivener.
"Playing well individually and collectively, and winning this game, is everyone's sole focus."
The entire 22-man squad is made up of Edinburgh and Glasgow players, with the capital-city outfit contributing 10 members of the starting XV but just one replacement.
Right wing Hefin O’Hare, a former Wales Rugby League international who will make his debut having qualified on residency grounds and having also represented Scotland Sevens, is the only member of the starting backline not to play his rugby with Edinburgh.
Glasgow back row Ryan Wilson, man-of-the-match in the Heineken Cup win over Wasps, is another debutant, while Peter Murchie could follow suit from the bench.
“All week, the message to the players has been very clear: we want to play positive, attacking rugby, and one of the things that will allow us to do that is making sure we win the collisions,” added Scrivener, whose men were beaten 34-19 in the reverse fixture in Belfast last February.
“I feel that’s massively important against any Irish side – if you allow them to get momentum and quick ball, they always have pace, power and ability in the backs and they’re going to hurt you.
“We’ve picked a team that definitely has the ability to take it to the Irish in contact, and the players understand the importance of doing well in that area. I’m excited about the side we’ve put together; there’s a lot of ability and a lot of hunger there. The challenge is to bring it all together and produce a performance that’s good enough to win an international game for Scotland.”
Scotland A (VS Ireland Wolfhounds, Netherdale, Friday, 7.30pm)
15 Jim Thompson (Edinburgh)
14 Hefin O’Hare (Glasgow Warriors)
13 Ben Cairns (Edinburgh)
12 John Houston (Edinburgh)
11 Lee Jones (Edinburgh)
10 David Blair (Edinburgh)
9 Greig Laidlaw (captain) (Edinburgh)
1 Jon Welsh (Glasgow Warriors)
2 Dougie Hall (Glasgow Warriors)
3 Geoff Cross (Edinburgh)
4 Scott MacLeod (Edinburgh)
5 Fraser McKenzie (Edinburgh)
6 Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors)
7 Alan MacDonald (Edinburgh)
8 Johnnie Beattie (Glasgow Warriors)
16 Fergus Thomson (Glasgow Warriors)
17 Moray Low (Glasgow Warriors)
18 Rob Harley (Glasgow Warriors)
19 Roddy Grant (Edinburgh)
20 Colin Gregor (Glasgow Warriors)
21 Peter Murchie (Glasgow Warriors)
22 Colin Shaw (Glasgow Warriors)