Hogg to start for Scotland
Stuart Hogg (Getty Images)
London - Stuart Hogg was restored to the Scotland line-up in one of four changes announced by coach Scott Johnson on Wednesday for the Six Nations opener against Ireland in Dublin on Sunday.
Full-back Hogg, a British and Irish Lion, missed the November series with a wrist injury but was installed in the No 15 jersey with Sean Maitland, who played there in Scotland's 21-15 defeat by Australia last time out, moving across to the right wing.
Other changes saw Alex Dunbar come in at centre for Nick de Luca, Ryan Wilson selected at blindside flanker instead of Johnnie Beattie, on the bench despite a virus, and Tim Swinson replacing Grant Gilchrist in the second row.
In the backs, fly-half Duncan Weir was preferred to Glasgow rival Ruaridh Jackson, who didn't even make it into the matchday 23.
Meanwhile Scotland captain Kelly Brown had his place at openside flanker confirmed by Johnson after seeing off a challenge to his place from Chris Fusaro.
For Dunbar, Wilson, Swinson and inside centre Duncan Taylor it is their first start in the Championship.
Jonhson revealed selection had been difficult, saying in a Scottish Rugby Union statement: "The forwards especially were a hard pick but we're happy.
"We believe we've got a good combination to go in against formidable opposition."
Behind the scrum, Johnson had high hopes for a back three featuring the dynamic Hogg, New Zealand-born Maitland and veteran left wing Sean Lamont, who is set to win his 83rd cap just a fortnight after celebrating his 33rd birthday.
We can go the length with that back three," said the Australian coach.
"For a seasoned campaigner Sean Lamont has some legs still," the Australian added.
"His form over the last 24 months for us has been outstanding, especially his work off the ball.
"Like something in my wine cabinet he's certainly getting better with age."
Scotland, who finished an encouraging third in last season's Six Nations, will be looking to follow up their 12-8 win over the Irish at Murrayfield, when scrum-half Greig Laidlaw kicked all their points.
However, the Scots haven't won their first match in the Championship since beating France 20-16 in Edinburgh in 2006.
Kick-off for Sunday's match at Lansdowne Road is scheduled for 17:00.
15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Alex Dunbar, 12 Duncan Taylor, 11 Sean Lamont, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Greig Laidlaw, 8 David Denton, 7 Kelly Brown (captain), 6 Ryan Wilson, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Moray Low, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Ryan Grant
Substitutes: 16 Pat MacArthur, 17 Alasdair Dickinson, 18 Geoff Cross, 19 Richie Gray, 20 Johnnie Beattie, 21 Chris Cusiter, 22 Matt Scott, 23 Max Evans