Dropped Kinghorn has done nothing wrong – Townsend


Six Nations: Blair Kinghorn hat-trick seals opening Scotland win v Italy
2019 Six Nations: Scotland v Ireland
Venue: Murrayfield Date: Saturday, 9 February Kick-off: 14:15 GMT
Coverage: Watch on BBC One Scotland; listen on BBC Radio Scotland 92-95FM & 5live sports extra; live text commentary on the BBC Sport website & app

Blair Kinghorn has “done nothing wrong” and his omission for Saturday’s Six Nations match with Ireland is down to Sean Maitland’s greater experience, says Scotland coach Gregor Townsend.

Kinghorn, 22, scored a hat-trick of tries against Italy, the first Scot to do so in the Championship for 30 years.

But Townsend has opted to recall fit-again Saracens wing Maitland, with Kinghorn dropping to the bench.

“We were always hoping Sean would get back fit for this game,” Townsend said.

“Sean would have been starting against Italy with [fellow wing] Tommy Seymour if he’d been fit. Blair’s performance did mean that we had an extended discussion that probably went on a second day, but we believe that Tommy and Sean are best equipped for this game.

“But nothing should be taken away from Blair’s performance. So to have the three of them available to us, one off the bench, means we’ve got stronger cover at back three than ever before.”

Townsend admitted that Kinghorn, named Six Nations player of the round following his exploits against the Italians, was disappointed to miss out on a place in the starting team.

“Players take it differently – sometimes they’re quiet, sometimes they’re accepting, and sometimes they argue back,” explained the head coach, who also name-checked Darcy Graham, Lee Jones and Byron McGuigan among the “growing and healthy competition” for wing spots.

“Blair was quiet. He’ll be disappointed, I know. He has been playing well at full-back for Edinburgh and to be able to move across to wing [where he has featured in six of his eight Scotland Tests to date] shows that improvement, and the right mindset and attitude to succeed.

“It should also bring the best out of Tommy and Sean.”

After a surprise opening-day defeat by England in Dublin, Ireland come to Murrayfield knowing only a victory will preserve their hopes of retaining the title, and Townsend is expecting a big performance from Joe Schmidt’s side.

“They know that if they lose this weekend it’s unlikely they are going to win the Championship,” Townsend added.

“We play a slightly different way from other international teams, but the players have seen what England did, how they were able to get that win and I’m sure we’ll take a few lessons from it.”

‘As harsh as it is, it is the right call’ – analysis

Former Scotland captain Andy Nicol on BBC 5 live:

“It is a very tough call obviously, but Gregor Townsend is in the big job to make the big decisions. Scotland are playing Ireland, one of the best teams in the world, and you want your best team out on the pitch. If Sean Maitland is fit, he is in that.

“As hard as that is for Blair Kinghorn, a young kid who has made a fantastic start to his international career, he is not at the same level as Sean Maitland. For big games you get your big team out. As harsh as it is, it is the right call.”

Rewind: The last time Scotland & Ireland met at Murrayfield

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