Gregor Townsend yesterday stuck to his gambler’s instincts when he called upon Blair Kinghorn to make his first international start in Dublin as Scotland seek to improve on their abysmal away record in the NatWest 6 Nations Championship.

The Edinburgh full-back, who turned 21 less than two months ago, will also be making only his second start as a professional player on the wing, the previous one when playing a part in a surprise defeat of Townsend’s Glasgow Warriors at the end of last season.

Having replaced Tommy Seymour in the closing stages of the Calcutta Cup win against England last month he is, however, trusted to do so again with the British & Irish Lions tourist ruled out due to the back injury that forced him off the field during that match.

Kinghorn’s selection in the Scotland starting XV comes during the same season in which Edinburgh’s head coach Richard Cockerill suggested he was not ready for international rugby. The former England hooker has since revised that view and while more conservative options were available to Scotland’s head coach, Townsend expressed confidence in the way the youngster has developed in the course of this season, saying he believes he has learned the error of his ways as a rugby player.

“Probably he [Kinghorn] has matured by making mistakes and realising that it’s not going to get him too far in his rugby career,” he observed.

“You need to go through that period. The first two months of the year, he was outstanding, then he did have a few games where he made errors or lost his focus [but] in the last two or three months, he’s been back to even better form.

“That’s a credit to him and the guys working with him at Edinburgh [and] when he’s been with us, he’s trained really, really well.

“He came on in a huge game for his first cap and made seven or eight tackles in a short period of time, looked confident, looked aggressive and we expect him to have the same mindset this weekend.”

After Scotland’s biggest win over England for 32 years, the starting team that had also lined up against France a fortnight earlier is understandably otherwise unchanged once again and Townsend explained that his decision to prefer Kinghorn to the more experienced campaigners he had brought back into the squad this week, had been down to a combination of match fitness and players’ strengths.

“Byron [McGuigan] really wasn’t an option. He didn’t play at the weekend, he was on the bench for Sale.

‘He would have been a option if he’d played, but he didn’t come off the bench and he’s just coming back from that hamstring injury, so we thought this was a game too early for him, although he was in very good form and starting for us before his injury.

“Lee [Jones] has been in excellent form and played really well against New Zealand and Samoa in November.

“He’s trained really well over the last couple of weeks, but we just feel the balance of what we might expect from Ireland, along with the potential weather conditions, means having that extra full-back in the back three is better for us this week, but with Lee on the bench, we also know we’ve got an excellent winger to cover.”