Guinness Six Nations
Seven uncapped players in Scotland’s Six Nations squad
Head coach Gregor Townsend is looking for further improvement from his Scotland team (pic: SNS Group)
Opportunity knocks for a number of Scotland’s rising rugby stars with head coach Gregor Townsend having named seven uncapped players in a 39-man squad for the 2019 Guinness Six Nations.
Injuries to Fraser Brown and George Turner have opened the door for a trio of uncapped hookers, with David Cherry (Edinburgh), Jake Kerr (Leicester Tigers) and Grant Stewart (Glasgow Warriors) rewarded for breakthrough seasons at their club sides.
They are joined by back-row Gary Graham (Newcastle Falcons) and tighthead prop D’Arcy Rae (Glasgow Warriors), with centres Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors) and Chris Dean (Edinburgh) the only uncapped backs.
Of the group, former Scotland U20 caps Cherry, Kerr and Dean are the only players to have no previous involvement with the senior national side, with the others selected in extended or training squads in recent seasons.
Johnson missed out on the recent Autumn Tests through injury and Graham was an unused addition mid-campaign, while Rae and Stewart have also come close to caps in previous camps as unused squad members on the 2017 and 2018 summer tours respectively.
Newcastle Falcons back-row John Hardie makes his return to a Scotland squad for the first time since the 2018 Six Nations.
The Scots finished last year’s championship in third place and Townsend is keen to see continued improvements.
He said: “There’s certainly been a lot of improvement from this group of players in recent seasons and I believe there’s much more to come. They’ve a genuine desire to get better and reach their potential in what is a huge year for our sport.
“In the past 18 months we’ve played 18 Test matches and have introduced 18 new players to Test-level rugby. Once again, our squad features players aiming to take that step, which is a testimony to their performances this season and the growing strength in depth of Scottish rugby.
“We are very proud of what a number of our players have achieved since the Autumn Tests, particularly with Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors both aiming to make the last eight of the Heineken Champions Cup for the first time and both sitting in strong positions in their respective Guinness PRO14 conferences.
“We’ve also seen some excellent performances from players representing clubs in France and England, which is a credit to their commitment and work ethic.”
Forwards: Props: Alex Allan (Glasgow Warriors), Allan Dell (Edinburgh), Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow); Simon Berghan (Edinburgh), Willem Nel (Edinburgh), D’Arcy Rae (Glasgow Warriors).
Hookers: Dave Cherry (Edinburgh), Jake Kerr (Leicester Tigers), Stuart McInally (Edinburgh), Grant Stewart (Glasgow Warriors).
Locks: Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh), Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors) Sam Skinner (Exeter Chiefs), Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors), Ben Toolis (Edinburgh).
Back row: Adam Ashe (Glasgow Warriors), Gary Graham (Newcastle), John Hardie (Newcastle), Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh), Josh Strauss (Sale Sharks), Hamish Watson (Edinburgh), Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors).
Backs: Back three: Darcy Graham (Edinburgh), Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors), Lee Jones (Glasgow Warriors), Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh), Sean Maitland (Saracens), Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors)
Centres: Chris Dean (Edinburgh), Nick Grigg (Glasgow Warriors), Chris Harris (Newcastle Falcons), Peter Horne (Glasgow Warriors), Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors), Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors).
Fly-halves: Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors), Finn Russell (Racing 92).
Scrum-halves: George Horne (Glasgow Warriors), Greig Laidlaw (Clermont Auvergne), Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors).