08 May Three uncapped players named in Scotland summer tour squad
Head Coach Gregor Townsend today named three uncapped players in a 34-man Scotland squad for next month’s three-test summer tour, the first under his stewardship.
The national team will face their opponents on consecutive Saturdays, starting with an historic test match against Italy in Singapore (10 June), followed by Australia in Sydney (17 June) and Fiji in Suva (24 June).
Glasgow Warriors’ centre Nick Grigg, prop D’Arcy Rae and Edinburgh Rugby hooker George Turner are the uncapped men to tour and will look to add international honours to their senior club careers.
A qualified community coach, 22-year-old Rae represented Scotland throughout the age-grades and is a former pupil at Marr College. He won the Bill McLaren Shield, BT Premiership and BT Cup with Ayr, while coming through the ranks with the Scotstoun club.
Macphail scholarship recipient George Turner (24) joined Edinburgh Rugby in 2011 as an Elite Development Player, having represented Scotland throughout the age-grades. He made his first start in 14 appearances for the capital club against Dragons last month.
Grigg (24) signed for Glasgow Warriors at the start of the season having impressed for Stirling County as a BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy player.
The powerful Kiwi-born centre has made 21 appearances for the club since his March debut last year and has enjoyed a fine season with the Warriors.
The Scotland squad also welcomes the return of Pete Horne and Willem Nel from injury, while there are notable recalls for Glasgow Warriors wing Lee Jones, Harlequins back Ruaridh Jackson and Edinburgh Rugby scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne – who steps into the squad for Greig Laidlaw, recently called up for the British & Irish Lions tour of New Zealand.
Scotland Head Coach, Gregor Townsend, said: “We’re looking forward to what will be a challenging tour of three different countries, playing three quality sides.
“This tour is all about learning and competing. As a coaching group we will be learning more about our players and how they perform in a different environment against three sides with contrasting styles of play.
“We have assembled a strong squad, and this is an opportunity for them work with us for the first time. We’re going to have three week’s 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.”
Scotland’s match against Italy will be the first tier one international to be played in the Lion City and looks to build on the success of their recent hosting of the HSBC Sevens World Series.
The second test will see the Scots return to Australia for the first time since 2012, when captain Laidlaw kicked a match-winning penalty to secure the team’s first win down under since 1982 (9-6).
The Wallabies edged out Scotland by a single point in the past two meetings; in Rugby World Cup 2015 (35-34) and the autumn test at BT Murrayfield in November (23-22).
Scotland will then travel to Fiji for the third and final test match.
It will be the third time the Scots have faced the Pacific Islanders on their home patch, with the nations honours-even from the 1998 test in Suva won by the hosts (51-26) and the Scottish victory in Lautoka in 2012, in which Tim Visser made a try-scoring debut (35-27).
Townsend added: “Playing Italy in Singapore will be a very different prospect than taking them on in Edinburgh or Rome. It will be a challenge for both teams to adapt to the new surroundings.
“Australia in Sydney in the afternoon is just an excellent fixture against a team that plays some great attacking rugby, while Fiji in Suva will be a huge test for our defence in an environment that we will very rarely play in.”
The draw for the Rugby World Cup 2019 will take place in Kyoto this Wednesday (10 May) and Townsend explained the game’s global showpiece is already a part of the selection process.
“The Rugby World Cup certainly features in our thinking as we prepare for this tour,” he added.
“We’ve looked at a number of players for selection for this squad and there are a few that have missed out on selection, some of whom were very close and will be in our thoughts as we move into next season and as we build towards the World Cup.
“The 34 players named today are selected not just for their form and what they’ve done in a Scotland jersey up to now but for what they can do over the next couple of years.”
Townsend also confirmed the appointment of Stuart Yule and Gavin Vaughan as national team S&C Coach and Analyst, respectively.
The pair join the Scotland backroom from Glasgow Warriors, completing the set-up under the new Head Coach.
SCOTLAND SQUAD – 2017 SUMMER TOUR
Not considered through injury: Mark Bennett (knee), Alasdair Dickinson (foot), Huw Jones (hamstring), Stuart McInally (back), Rory Sutherland (groin)