Rugby World Cup 2019: Duncan Taylor and Sam Johnson start at centre against Ireland

Duncan Taylor and Sam Johnson
Duncan Taylor and Sam Johnson will start in Japan
2019 Rugby World Cup: Ireland v Scotland
Venue: International Stadium, Yokohama Date: Sunday, 22 September Kick-off: 08:45 BST
Coverage: Full commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Scotland MW and BBC Radio Ulster; plus text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app. Live on ITV

Duncan Taylor and Sam Johnson will start together for only the second time at centre for Scotland in their World Cup opener against Ireland.

Coach Greg Townsend sticks with Tommy Seymour on the wing ahead of in-form Darcy Graham for the Pool A match.

Ryan Wilson is preferred to Blade Thomson at number eight, while Greig Laidlaw's experience gets him the nod ahead of Ali Price at scrum-half.

Hooker Stuart McInally will captain the side in Yokohama on Sunday.

Glasgow Warriors' Jonny Gray is chosen in the second row alongside Edinburgh's Grant Gilchrist and London Irish's Allan Dell ahead of Ayrshire Bulls' Gordon Reid in the front row.

As expected, Townsend has gone for an experienced line-up that is vastly different from the side that defeated Georgia 36-9 in their final warm-up match at Murrayfield earlier this month and shows 10 changes.

The head coach said: "Our team has a lot of experience playing together in major games for Scotland, with a bench capable of making a difference when required.

"That cohesion, experience and leadership is very valuable in a build-up to a match of this magnitude as well as during the 80 minutes on Sunday."

Exeter Chiefs full-back Stuart Hogg and Saracens wing Sean Maitland return to the back-three to partner fellow British and Irish Lion and Glasgow wing Seymour.

Another pair of Lions - Clermont Auvergne scrum-half Laidlaw and Racing 92 fly-half Finn Russell - return to start at half-back.

"In Ireland, we face a quality opposition who, over the past number of years, have earned the right to be the number one ranked side in the world," Townsend added.

"We know them well and are well aware of the strengths they possess throughout their squad. We expect them to play very well, as they did in their most recent games against Wales, so only our best performance will do in order to win.

"The prospect of facing them in the opening round of a Rugby World Cup is a fantastic challenge for our players and supporters around the world."

Scotland: Hogg; Seymour, Taylor, Johnson, Maitland; Russell, Laidlaw; Dell, McInally (captain), Nel, Gilchrist, Gray, Barclay, Watson, Wilson.

Replacements: Brown, Reid, Berghan, Cummings, Thomson, Price, Harris, Graham.

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