Ireland team who will be seeking 6 Nations glory this weekend in Scotland

NewsBy Shuki Byrne
Rob Kearney is tackled during last year's game in the Aviva
Rob Kearney is tackled during last year's game in the Aviva

Luke Fitzgerald and Cian Healy have secured their places in the Ireland starting 15 against Scotland this weekend.

Luke Fitzgerald will win his first Test start in four years as Ireland chase a hefty victory in Scotland to retain their RBS 6 Nations title on Saturday.

The Leinster wing has battled chronic groin problems in the last two years, but will replace Simon Zebo for his first Test action since November 2013.

Prop Cian Healy wins his first Six Nations start in dislodging Jack McGrath, as boss Joe Schmidt makes two changes from the side that lost 23-16 in Wales.

Zebo has started the last 10 Tests under Schmidt, finally winning the taskmaster Kiwi's trust - but the Munster flyer struggled under the high ball against Wales and has paid the ultimate price.

Fitzgerald steps in after impressing in a string of fine Leinster performances to cement his return to fitness, for his first Test start since Ireland's 19-12 World Cup warm-up defeat to France in August 2011.

Ireland can still retain their Six Nations title despite blowing their Grand Slam chances in Cardiff last weekend, but must likely better the points-difference tallies of Wales and England.

Healy's restoration to the starting line-up is harsh on his Leinster team-mate McGrath, who has remained a consistent performer in Ireland's campaign. Fit-again Healy has been itching for a start after recovering from a nasty hamstring tear in September that ruled him out of the autumn Test series.

Ireland boss Schmidt insisted he would not "go back to the drawing board" after last week's frustrating defeat, and that determination accounts for the minimal changes.

Hooker Rory Best will move clear as Ireland's eighth-most capped player of all time, when winning his 83rd Test bow in Edinburgh.

Jamie Heaslip meanwhile is poised to equal David Wallace's record as Ireland's most-capped back-row forward of all time, in his 72nd Test.

Paul O'Connell will set a new outright record as Ireland's oldest captain of all time at 35 years and 152 days, overtaking Mick Galwey's record that he equalled in 23-16 defeat in Cardiff.

Veteran lock O'Connell was outstanding in the loose in Cardiff, especially given his advancing years, but was dismantled in the lineout.

The skipper, lock partner Devin Toner and hooker Rory Best have all received reprieves for a 67 per cent success rate that proved a cavernous drop from previous standards.

The Ireland team to start in Edinburgh is as follows:

R Kearney (Leinster), T Bowe, J Payne (both Ulster), R Henshaw (Connacht), L Fitzgerald (Leinster), J Sexton (Racing Metro), C Murray (Munster), C Healy (Leinster), R Best (Ulster), M Ross, D Toner (both Leinster), P O'Connell (capt), P O'Mahony (both Munster), S O'Brien, J Heaslip (both Leinster). Replacements: J McGrath, S Cronin, M Moore (all Leinster), I Henderson (Ulster), J Murphy, E Reddan, I Madigan (all Leinster), F Jones (Munster).