Risk and reward has become an ever more widely used phrase in elite sport, but it applied slightly differently yesterday as Gregor Townsend unveiled his selection for Saturday’s visit to Dublin and what could be a NatWest 6 Nations Championship decider.

Lying third in the table, Scotland would need considerable help from elsewhere to claim their first championship title since the last ever Five Nations in 1999, but their head coach believes his men are in contention.

“We’re not out of it, so we understand that this game is huge for us, firstly as a one-off, but also to stay in the mix,” said Townsend.

“That gives the players a lot of motivation, knowing that if we can get a win, we will still be challenging for the title come round five.”

To that end the "reward" element of his team selection was wholly predictable, since he was bound to show faith in those who started against both France and England, setting up victories that have gone some way to justifying heightened pre-championship expectations.

“They have played really well in the last two games,” was their coach’s tribute.

“They beat the number two team in the world with an excellent performance.

“Cohesion is a big factor as well. This group don’t get a huge number of games to play together and they have improved over the past couple of games. They have that feeling of knowing what it takes to win. We’d like to think we’ll see another improvement this weekend.”

The "risk" aspect is a different matter, however undaunted by what happened when he paid a high price for experimentation in the wider channels in Cardiff in the campaign opener, Townsend has once again opted for an unorthodox selection in introducing, for a first Scotland start, a player who has made just one previous starting appearance in the position he will occupy.

Blair Kinghorn has been one of the outstanding figures in a fast-improving Edinburgh side, responding impressively to their new head coach Richard Cockerill’s challenge soon after he arrived in the Scottish capital, to eradicate sloppy mistakes from his game as he has established himself as their first choice full-back.

Townsend said the speed with which the 21-year-old had taken that message and those the Scotland coach had delivered himself, was such that he came close to be called into the squad even before making that memorable debut as a replacement for the still injured Tommy Seymour in last month's Calcutta Cup win.

“I’ve had conversations with him throughout the year, giving him feedback on why he wasn’t in the squad in November [and] his form actually improved a lot just before the November games and he was unlucky to miss out,” Townsend explained.

“But I made him aware of what we like about his game. His work rate off the ball, his confidence of taking on the opposition with ball in hand and his defence has improved a lot.

“We also had a discussion about the wing position. He has trained a lot with us on the wing when he wasn’t involved in the Wales game.”

A major difference this time is that whereas the gamble on three positions in their three-quarter line backfired horribly in Cardiff as Huw Jones was shifted out of position to inside centre, to accommodate at outside centre Chris Harris, who had made little impression as a replacement winger on his debut in the autumn and had alongside him on one wing Byron McGuigan, who was also making just his second Test appearance, young Kinghorn comes in alongside a group of men who are comfortable in their roles and have performed well together over the last two matches.

He will undoubtedly face a severe examination from tactically the shrewdest half-back combination in European, if not world rugby in Conor Murray and Jonny Sexton, but for all his inexperience on the wing, it is the ability he has shown as a full-back that has earned him selection ahead of the smaller Lee Jones.

“If you are playing against a team with a strong kicking game you expect, whether at full-back or wing, to have kicks to deal with. We like the balance of our back three with three full-backs there. We expect we will get some kicks to catch,” Townsend pointed out.

“Blair, with his pace, is another player who can be a very good winger, but the way the back three operates nowadays, they’re interchangeable in terms of backfield coverage.

“We want the wingers working infield as much as possible to get on the ball, as much as the full-back and we also want them on the ball in phase play, not just in counter-attack, so popping up to make decisions.

“Sean Maitland has done that really well over his career and we see Blair doing the same”