Rugby Union: Five Nations Countdown - Armstrong takes over Scotland captaincy

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The Independent Online
Gary Armstrong, the Newcastle scrum-half, will take over the captaincy from Rob Wainwright for Scotland's opening Five Nations' Championship match against Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.

Wainwright does retain his place at blind-side flanker in a side showing seven changes - three positional - from the one defeated in Italy last month.

Recalled to the starting XV are the Wasps winger Kenny Logan, who was left out of the squad for the trip to Treviso, and his club colleague Damian Cronin in the second row.

Cronin replaces the inexperienced Scott Murray, while Logan starts on the left flank with Craig Joiner switching to the right in place of Tony Stanger, who is demoted to the replacements' bench.

Newcastle prop George Graham also makes a belated first start at international level after being forced to withdraw from the original team to face Italy, coming in for David Hilton at loose-head who is also dropped to the bench.

The other main positional switch sees Craig Chalmers restored to the vital stand-off role in a straight swap for Gregor Townsend, who reverts to the centre role he has filled for most of the season with his club, Northampton.

The selectors have also gone for a more heavyweight No 8 in Newcastle's Peter Walton. He gets the nod over Adam Roxburgh, who will be joined on the bench by London Scottish full-back Derrick Lee after a long absence from the international scene.

Tight-head prop Paul Wallace has received the green light to play for Ireland. Wallace had been struggling with a neck injury sustained playing for Saracens last weekend. He will be joined in the Irish side by flanker David Corkery and centre Kevin Maggs.

SCOTLAND (v Ireland, Five Nations' Championship, Dublin, Saturday): R Shepherd (Melrose and Caledonia); C Joiner (Leicester), A Tait (Newcastle), G Townsend (Northampton), K Logan (Wasps); C Chalmers (Melrose and Scottish Borders), G Armstrong (Newcastle, capt); G Graham (Newcastle), G Bulloch (West of Scotland and Glasgow), M Stewart (Northampton), D Cronin (Wasps), D Weir (Newcastle), R Wainwright (Dundee HSFP and Caledonia), P Walton (Newcastle), S Holmes (London Scottish). Replacements: T Stanger (Hawick and Scottish Borders), D Lee (London Scottish), A Nicol (Bath), A Roxburgh (Kelso and Scottish Borders), S Grimes (Watsonians and Caledonia), D Hilton (Bath), G Scott (Dundee HSFP and Caledonia).

Referee: A Watson (SA). Touch judges: C Thomas (Wal) and E Morrison (Eng).

l Bristol have signed the Neath winger Chris Higgs on a free transfer. The 29-year-old policeman was not under contract at the Welsh club and he will make his debut in the Cheltenham and Gloucester Cup game at Moseley tonight. Higgs was set to move to the Memorial Ground in December, but was persuaded by the Welsh club to stay at The Gnoll.

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