18 Jan Cotter names 37-man Scotland squad for 2017 RBS 6 Nations
Head Coach Vern Cotter today named a 37-man Scotland squad for the forthcoming RBS 6 Nations Championship.
Among the group is 37-times capped Gloucester centre Matt Scott who – after missing out on selection in the autumn – has earned a recall thanks to a number of impressive performances for the Kingsholm club, scoring 12 tries in 18 games this season.
Cotter has also named uncapped Edinburgh Rugby forwards Simon Berghan (prop) and Cornell Du Preez (back-row).
Du Preez (25) is a popular figure in the capital, scoring 14 tries in 71 appearances. He became eligible to represent Scotland last year after completing three years of residency in the country.
Berghan (26) joined Edinburgh Rugby in 2013 and is eligible to represent Scotland through his grandfather, Andrew Davidson, from Stirling. The 20st, 6’3” prop has made 24 appearances for the capital club.
Berghan and returning Newcastle Falcons’ tighthead Jon Welsh are among the seven props named in the squad, with the national team awaiting the results of a scan this evening (Wednesday) that will confirm the availability of Edinburgh Rugby’s Willem Nel, who injured his neck in the club’s European Challenge Cup win over Harlequins on Saturday (14 January).
“I think if we get our mind-set right we can be competitive and push for wins in every game in this campaign.”
He added: “When you look down the list of names from Greig Laidlaw as captain, a solid locking group that’s been together for a while, a familiar group of loose forwards who have played consistently well for their clubs, with John Hardie expected to return to fitness shortly.
“The backline gives us a little versatility with Huw Jones able to play several positions, as can Duncan Taylor, Duncan Weir returns alongside Finn [Russell] who’ll be working to run games, with settled back-three options available to us once again.”
Elsewhere in the pack the squad has a very familiar feel, with hookers Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors), Ross Ford and Stuart McInally (both Edinburgh Rugby) named for the third campaign in succession.
Edinburgh Rugby’s in-form lock, Ben Toolis, has been added to the second-row stable, while the addition of Du Preez is the only new face in the back-row.
In the backs, captain Greig Laidlaw (Gloucester), Ali Price and Henry Pyrgos (both Glasgow Warriors) have all been reselected, while Edinburgh Rugby stand-off Duncan Weir joins Glasgow Warriors’ Finn Russell as the stand-off options.
Matt Scott is the only addition named to the centres although, while named, injury prevented Saracens’ Duncan Taylor from featuring in the autumn.
The back-three group of Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors), Damien Hoyland (Edinburgh Rugby), Sean Maitland (Saracens), Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors) and Tim Visser (Harlequins) is unchanged.
Cotter added: “We now prepare to enter the RBS 6 Nations and face our first opposition, Ireland, at home next month who are now ranked highly in the world, and deservedly so, after wins over New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, so it’s a tough start.
“I think the addition of bonus-points will probably open up the games a little more and I think that’s a good thing. I think we’ll see a little more play and perhaps a few more risks in the game, which is exciting.”
The squad will convene in Edinburgh on Monday (23 January) for a three-day camp at Oriam – Scotland’s sports performance centre – ahead of the national team’s opener against Ireland at BT Murrayfield in just over a fortnight’s time (Saturday 4 February, kick-off 2.25pm) – live on BBC.
Not currently considered through injury: David Denton (hamstring, Bath Rugby), Alasdair Dickinson (foot, Edinburgh Rugby), Pete Horne (ankle, Glasgow Warriors), Rory Hughes (knee, Glasgow Warriors), Rory Sutherland (groin, Edinburgh Rugby).