GREGOR TOWNSEND is under no illusions as to how tough a task his side face in their opening fixture of the Six Nations tomorrow when they travel to Dublin to face Ireland.

But he is confident his men are ready for the fight at the Aviva Stadium and he knows that if Scotland are to get a positive result come full-time tomorrow, they will need be prepared to tackle, tackle and then tackle some more

Scotland are coming into this game off the back of a drubbing at the hands of the Irish at the World Cup last year, with Ireland running out comfortable 27-3 winners in Yokohama.

And so if the Scots are to close the gap, or even reverse the scoreline tomorrow, they will need to “enjoy the defensive side of the game”, said Townsend.

The head coach has made ten changes to the starting line-up from the side’s last international outing, against Japan in their final game of the World Cup.

And perhaps the most notable inclusion is that of Nick Haining, the Australian with a Scottish granny, who will make his Scotland debut in Dublin.

Until recently, international rugby was not on the number eight’s radar. But in the four months since his first competitive start for Edinburgh, Haining has come into Townsend’s starting fifteen ahead of more established flankers and the head coach is hopeful Haining can reproduce the form he has shown for Edinburgh on the international stage.

“Nick gets his opportunity on the back of his form for Edinburgh,” said Townsend.

“Whenever he’s had his opportunity for Edinburgh he’s done well, and we are looking forward to seeing him play.”

Haining will take his place in an all-Edinburgh back-row alongside fit-again openside Hamish Watson and returning blindside Jamie Ritchie.

Magnus Bradbury misses out with a thigh strain although Townsend has every faith he will be back in contention for England’s visit to Murrayfield next weekend.

Stand-off Adam Hastings will make his first start in the Six Nations, an opportunity he has been given due to Finn Russell’s late-night drinking session almost two weeks ago which saw him dropped for this fixture.

There is no doubt Hastings is being thrown in at the deep end but Townsend believes he is well-equipped to deal with it, with the Russell saga is not causing any internal issues.

“In the last season, Adam’s running game has become much stronger,” he said of the Glasgow Warriors fly-half.

“Adam is one of the hardest workers in our team - he was one of the fittest in our tests in the summer and that’s a big strength.

“I think they’ve (all) been really together as a group for the past two weeks. Coming with enthusiasm, energy, open minds. We have a couple of new coaches with new ideas in our group and they have played really well.”

Also in the starting fifteen is Glasgow Warriors’ Huw Jones, who as recently as a few months ago, didn’t think he would even make Townsend’s Six Nations squad. But an impressive run of form for his club side has seen him force his way back into the international set-up, something which the head coach gives him considerable credit for.

“Huw has played more regularly for his club team and he has been playing really well. His form over the last two months has been excellent. A lot of credit goes to Huw for that, for working hard on aspects of the game that he needed to improve,” said Townsend.

“He is playing with real confidence in defence and attack, I know from the feedback at Glasgow how well he has been training and also contributing to meetings. We’ve seen that here over the past two weeks.

“Sometimes players have to go through adversity at times in their careers. It has been great to see the character of Huw to get through that and be back enjoying his rugby again."

Last week, Townsend admitted that mistakes were made in terms of preparation ahead of Scotland’s clash with Ireland at the World Cup. And while there is no sure-fire way of predicting what kind of performance the Scots will turn out tomorrow, Townsend believes things are looking very positive, with their training camp in Spain over the past week having made for an excellent build-up to the game.

“Just now, the mood of the players in the camp is good,” he said.

“We had a tough session yesterday morning, the players were leading in the meetings and on the training field, and that’s what you want from a coaching perspective.

“We’ve done the detail. There is a bit of a hard edge around defence and the players are the ones doing the talking. Now up to us all, but especially the players, that we are ready for a huge challenge – that we are confident and ready to work very hard for 80 minutes.

“The team have prepared really well, the intensity levels and communication in training have been excellent.

“Things have gone well, but we know mindset has a big part to play in high level sport.

“We have to be focused, confident and prepared to do the tough stuff at the weekend.

“We know the performance in Yokohama wasn’t anywhere near good enough but this is a new team. The players are looking forward rather than back.”

As for Ireland, they have made some changes since the World Cup, with the most notable being Andy Farrell replacing Joe Schmidt as head coach. However, despite the change in personnel, Townsend expects to see a similar style of play employed by the Irish tomorrow as at the World Cup, and that the Irish will be just as tough opponents as they have always been.

“It’s important we are in the game and we stay in the fight for as long as possible,” said Townsend

“We are looking to impose our game on Ireland but we know that won’t be easy.

“When you play a team like Ireland, who have so much quality and they are on their own patch, it’s pretty clear they will bring their own energy and their own game.

“The first 20-30 minutes will be tough and we need to be up for that, we need to enjoy the defensive side of the game.

“Ireland, out of all the teams in world rugby, make you tackle the most. There will be high tackle numbers.

“It may change with a new coach, but we don’t think so, we think their formula will be the along similar lines.”