Hogg return to form delights Johnson

Scotland head coach Scott Johnson claims full-back Stuart Hogg has timed his return to form perfectly as the Dark Blues gear up for their RBS 6 Nations opener.

The Glasgow back will make his first appearance for the Scots since last year’s competition when they face Ireland on Sunday.

He missed the summer tour to South Africa while he was Down Under representing the Lions and then the autumn Tests with a wrist injury.

The blisteringly quick 21-year-old shot to prominence with a brace of tries against England and Italy 12 months ago but Johnson admitted he was worried his form with his club side had dropped.

But a recent upturn has given the Australian reason to be optimistic heading into this year’s championship.

He said: “Hoggy is a senior player now for being such a young lad and I’m glad he’s with us, and not the other sides.

“I’m glad also that his form has started to turn. Some people take a while after a Lions tour, especially the young ones, to get back in the swing of things.”

Hogg is one of four changes made to the side which kicked off Scotland’s last outing, a 21-15 defeat by Australia at Murrayfield in November.

Centre Alex Dunbar, second row Tim Swinson and flanker Ryan Wilson all come in for their first Six Nations starts, with Johnnie Beattie drops to the bench after illness and Nick De Luca and Grant Gilchrist are left out completely.

Johnson has also shifted New Zealand-born wing Sean Maitland back to his more natural position after Hogg’s Warriors team-mate was forced to fill in at No 15 during his recent absence.

But the coach says the rest of his team selection was based purely on form.

“The autumn was a chance for us to have a look at some players and try to increase the depth of the squad,” he said as he also reflected on a six-try win over Japan, the humiliating 28-0 defeat by the Springboks and the narrow loss to the Wallabies at the end of last year.

The one surprise omission from Johnson’s match-day 23 is Glasgow fly-half Ruaridh Jackson. His slot goes to his Scotstoun team-mate Duncan Weir.

More in this section

Sport Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox