Scotland 7s head coach, Graham Shiel, has made four changes to the squad which will travel to Wellington and Las Vegas next week, in the next two legs of the HSBC Sevens World Series.
Hamish Watson, Sean Kennedy and Byron McGuigan all come into the side with the chance to earn their first World Series and Scotland 7s caps. The fourth edition to the side is Fraser Harkness an experienced sevens player who has so far played in seven HSBC World Series Tournaments and scored eight tries.
The players replace Sam Hidalgo-Clyne who will be in contention for a place in Peter Wright’s under-20 squad to play England on Friday 3 February, Struan Dewar who continues to carry a hamstring injury and Kerr Gossman and Ross Miller who aren’t selected on this occasion.
Shiel said: “I picked this squad taking into consideration their performances in training, as well as picking a few new faces to freshen things up and give the guys an opportunity to see what they can do. Overall I believe the squad has a big physical threat, a lot of speed and agile players.
“The debutants are all very different players. Sean was very unfortunate having to withdraw from the last tournaments through injury, but he is fit, quick, has excellent passing skills and has a big big engine. Hamish as well, he is a bit of a buzz bomb with a high work rate and on the ball he is very aggressive. Finally, Byron has been with us for only a short period of time but he has fitted in really well and brings a different dimension to the game than we already have to offer. He is very good in attack and looks comfortable in defence.”
Sean Kennedy and Hamish Watson are both Scottish Rugby Elite Development Players aligned to Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh Rugby respectively. A scrum-half, Kennedy has represented Scotland at under-17, 18 and 20. Openside flanker, Watson accepted a Scotland sevens contract at the beginning of season 2011/12 while a member in Leicester Tigers Academy, he has also played Scotland under-20.
McGuigan, 22, previously played club rugby on the Eastern Cape in South Africa with Border Bulldogs. Qualifying for Scotland through his Glasgow-born mother the centre will be aligned to Scotland 7s for the remainder of the 2011/12 season, and may well be seeking a way into the Scottish game thereafter. You don’t get many Byrons down in the Borders.
In pursuit of their first Cup quarter-final this year Scotland 7s will meet New Zealand, Samoa and Japan in Pool A on Friday 4 February in Wellington.
First up they face the current Wellington Sevens holders, 2010/11 HSBC World Sevens Series champions and tournament hosts, New Zealand, at 2.12am (GMT), then Samoa at 5.30am and conclude day one against Japan at 7.30am.
They then travel to Las Vegas to compete in the tournament on Friday 10 and Saturday 11 February.
Shiel continued: “It’s an exciting time for us trying to design a game that works for Scotland particularly up against some big physical teams in Wellington. We want to rise to the challenge and show these teams that we can compete at this level.
“We were happy with the consistency we played at in the first three tournaments in Australia, Dubai and South Africa, but we must go beyond that and get ourselves to a cup quarter final, so we can put ourselves under more pressure and evolve.”
Luckily Pete Horne is still in there to dish the dirt for us too, so we should have more tour reports for you nearer the time.
Scotland 7s squad for the Wellington and Las Vegas legs of the HSBC Sevens World Series:
Colin Gregor (captain)
*sportscotland institute supported