Gregor Townsend has officially started his reign as Scotland supremo with the naming of 3 new caps for the Southern Hemisphere Summer Tour.
The former Glasgow Head Coach has resisted the urge to blood many new players or rest any campaigners by naming a highly experienced squad for the tests against Italy, Australia and Fiji next month. This is presumably thanks to so few Scottish players being named in the Lions squad, who will be touring at the same time.
The only uncapped players called up are Glasgow’s centre Nick Grigg and prop D’Arcy Rae, as well as Edinburgh hooker George Turner.
New Zealand-born centre Grigg, 24, has experienced a rapid rise, having only made his debut for the Warriors last September.
Prop Rae is in line for his full Scotland bow at the age of 22, having worked his way through the age grades, while Turner has also been given the nod by new head coach Townsend after playing at youth level for his country.
WP Nel and Peter Horne also return to the fold following injury hit Six Nation campaigns, with the former rumoured to be on the Lions reserve list.
There are also recalls for Lee Jones, Ruaridh Jackson, Magnus Bradbury and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne.
Many will be surprised to see the experienced, but still young, likes of Stuart McInally, Grant Gilchrist, David Denton and Cornell du Preez left out. It is also a surprise that at least some of the more young and promising players like Blair Kinghorn, Scott Cummings and Murray McCallum haven’t been given the nod – but Townsend will probably be more keen to win and get out of Vern Cotter’s shadow, than develop young players.
John Barclay will continue his role of stand-in captain thanks to Greig Laidlaw’s late replacement callup to the Lions squad over the weekend.
Huw Jones, Mark Bennett and Al Dickinson remain on the injured list, with Stuart Hogg and Tommy Seymour away with Warren Gatland’s Lions squad.
Townsend was keen to emphasise that the tour was a fresh start for lots of players and a chance to make their mark: “This tour is all about learning and competing”.
“We have assembled a strong squad, and this is an opportunity for them to work with us for the first time. We’re going to have three weeks’ preparation in Scotland before we head overseas, which will enable us to implement the key components of how we will play”
“Ultimately, though, this is a tour that will be about competition – for each individual to compete for a starting place and for them to work hard and find a way to win every time they play.”
Back three: Damien Hoyland (Edinburgh Rugby), Ruaridh Jackson (Harlequins), Lee Jones (Glasgow Warriors), Sean Maitland (Saracens), Tim Visser (Harlequins); Centres: Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors), Nick Grigg (Glasgow Warriors), Matt Scott (Gloucester), Duncan Taylor (Saracens); Fly-halves: Finn Russell (Glasgow Warriors), Peter Horne (Glasgow Warriors); Scrum-halves: Ali Price, Henry Pyrgos (both Glasgow Warriors), Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (Edinburgh)
Props: Alex Allan (Glasgow Warriors), Allan Dell, (Edinburgh Rugby), Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors), Willem Nel (Edinburgh Rugby), D’Arcy Rae (Glasgow Warriors), Gordon Reid (Glasgow Warriors); Hookers: Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors), Ross Ford (Edinburgh Rugby), George Turner (Edinburgh Rugby); Locks: Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors), Richie Gray (Toulouse), Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors), Ben Toolis (Edinburgh Rugby); Back row: John Barclay (Scarlets – captain), Magnus Bradbury (Edinburgh Rugby), John Hardie (Edinburgh Rugby), Rob Harley (Glasgow Warriors), Josh Strauss (Glasgow Warriors), Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby), Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors).
10 June – Scotland v Italy, Singapore National Stadium, Singapore (KO tbc)
17 June – Scotland v Australia, Allianz Stadium, Sydney (05:00 BST)
24 June – Scotland v Fiji, ANZ Stadium, Suva (KO tbc)