Declan Kidney has signaled his intent to step up the Grand Slam chase against Scotland with four changes to his Ireland team for Saturday’s penultimate game of the season in Edinburgh.

Kidney has turned to the attacking force that is Gordon D’Arcy as he looks to cement the fourth straight win of his first RBS Six Nations season.

With victories already under his belt over France, Italy and England, Kidney is just two wins away from Ireland’s first Grand Slam in 61 years and their first of the Six Nations era.

D’Arcy comes in at center for the trip to Scotland, with Peter Stringer, Rory Best and Denis Leamy also restored to the Irish team.

Ulster’s Paddy Wallace, Munster scrum half Tomas O’Leary, hooker Jerry Flannery and Jamie Heaslip all drop to the bench after starting the England game at Croke Park.

The Scotland game marks D’Arcy’s first start in over a year after he suffered an horrendous arm injury in the opening game of the season against Italy last term.

Speaking at the team announcement in Dublin Kidney said, “The four guys who have come in have been doing very well in training and have a done a good job whenever they’ve come on.

“The lads who are out have done nothing wrong. The new guys will bring their own chemistry to the team and have a wealth of experience, which we’ll need against  Scotland.”

D’Arcy gained valuable game time with his province Leinster in their Magners League win over the Ospreys in Wales last Friday night, and will resume his center midfield partnership with Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll on Saturday.

The Irish management have been impressed by D’Arcy’s contribution from the bench so far this season, and feel now is the perfect time to reintroduce him to the starting line-up in a game Ireland are desperate to win.  

“Darce has been brought along slowly — initially by Leinster and subsequently by Ireland — and you can see a marked improvement in what he’s doing from week to week,” Irish assistant coach Alan Gaffney said.

“He’s getting more confidence in himself which is obviously a very important thing after being out of the game for so long.

“Paddy Wallace has played well in the three games he’s had and I think Darce has put his hand up. It’s a great contest there and that’s been one of the benefits that Declan has expressed — we’ve got a lot of guys on the bench who have made an impact.”

Munster prop John Hayes will rewrite the record books against the Scots when he replaces Malcolm O’Kelly as Ireland’s most capped player on his 93rd appearance in the green shirt.

Scotland have recalled kicker Chris Paterson to their team for the clash, his first start of the season.

The Edinburgh kicker is back at full-back in place of club mate Hugo Southwell.

In the other change to the team, Alasdair Dickinson replaces fellow prop Allan Jacobsen, who underwent shoulder surgery last week and will be out for up to four months.

Coach Frank Hadden has yet to finalize the make-up of his second row.

The Ireland team to play Scotland is: R. Kearney (Leinster); T. Bowe (Ospreys), B. O’Driscoll (Leinster, captain), G. D’Arcy (Leinster), L. Fitzgerald (Leinster); R. O’Gara (Munster), P. Stringer (Munster); M. Horan (Munster), R. Best (Ulster), J. Hayes (Munster), D. O’Callaghan (Munster), P. O’Connell (Munster), S. Ferris (Ulster), D. Wallace (Munster), D. Leamy (Munster).

Replacements: J. Flannery (Munster), T. Court (Ulster), M. O’Driscoll (Munster), J. Heaslip (Leinster), T. O’Leary (Munster), P. Wallace (Ulster), G. Murphy (Leicester).

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