In his second season with Scotland under-20, flanker Tommy Spinks will lead the side against their Irish counterparts on Friday (31 January, Athlone, k/o 7.05pm) and is looking to emulate the captain who led his side to victory against the Irish last year.
Spinks said: “When I was involved in the squad last year we had a great captain in Jonny Gray who combined all the elements of leadership with his ability on the field.
“Leadership is obviously a massive part of the role, to be someone that players can look to in challenging times, and I’m looking forward to taking that responsibility.”
Spinks, who came off the bench to play against Ireland in the 21-20 win at Netherdale last year, is under no illusions of the task ahead this weekend.
He said: “We expect Ireland to come out firing. We showed last year that we can beat them and, if we stick to our game plan, I’m sure we can bring it to them again.”
Head coach Sean Lineen has opted for a range of experience in the team, with four of the starting XV – Spinks, props James Malcolm and D’arcy Rae, and centre Damien Hoyland – veterans of last year’s match against Ireland amidst newcomers to the squad this year, including the most recent recruit, Ben Chalmers, who starts at 10.
Having edged Ireland at home last year, Lineen expects a tough, physical meeting with the Irish in Athlone on Friday night.
He said: “Mike Ruddock’s been there a while as head coach and he’s done a great job. The Irish youth system’s strong, through their clubs and schools, and they’re pretty hardy lads, tough and aggressive.
“We have to match them physically and, defensively, be a bit more clever in where and how we play.
“It’s always a cracking game, against Ireland, and we know they’ll want to get one back on us this year but we’re looking forward to it – this is what representing Scotland is all about.”
Scotland under-20 v Ireland under-20, Friday 31 January at Dubarry Park, Athlone, kick-off 7.05pm
15 Gavin Lowe (Glasgow Hawks/Glasgow Warriors) **
14 Jamie Farndale (Edinburgh Accies/Edinburgh Rugby) **
13 Damien Hoyland (Melrose) *
12 Neil Herron (Glasgow Hawks/Scotland 7s)
11 Sam Pecqueur (Edinburgh Accies)
10 Ben Chalmers (Melrose)
9 Murdo McAndrew (Clermont Auvergne)
1 James Malcolm (Ayr) *
2 Sam James (London Wasps)
3 D’arcy Rae (Ayr/Glasgow Warriors) **
4 Andrew Cramond (Aberdeen Grammar)
5 Glen Young (Newcastle Falcons)
6 Magnus Bradbury (Boroughmuir/Edinburgh Rugby) **
7 Tommy Spinks (London Scottish) (captain)
8 Buchan Richardson (London Scottish)
16 Ross Graham (Hawick)
17 Philip Cringle (Edinburgh Accies/Edinburgh Rugby) **
18 Jack Cosgrove (Worcester Warriors)
19 Lewis Carmicheal (Melrose) *
20 Neil Irvine-Hess (Watsonians/Edinburgh Rugby) **
21 Ben Vellacott (Worcester Warriors/Hartpury)
22 Ben Cooper (Boroughmuir)
23 Ruairidh Young (Edinburgh Accies)
* member of Scottish Rugby’s Regional Academy supported by sportScotland Institute of Sport
**Elite Development Player 2013/14