Scotland coach Andy Robinson today announced a 28-man squad for the tour of Australia and the Pacific Isles.
Just few of the other players left at home this time out are: Ruaridh Jackson, Graeme Morrison, Hugo Southwell, Moray Low, Chris Fusaro, Ryan Wilson, Alex Dunbar and Johnnie Beattie. If the new guns – in the loosehead and centres particularly – bed in successfully, some of these guys may struggle to return come the autumn. Conversely the likes of Fusaro, Dunbar and Wilson should count themselves very unlucky not to be going.
The potential is there for a young exciting backline although there is plenty of familiarity and experience too. Whether Robinson would actually field a backline of Laidlaw, Weir, Visser, Scott, Ansbro, Brown, Hogg remains to be seen. We are more likely to see Evans or Lamont on the wing as Brown is the only fullback other than Hogg and Cusiter and Blair are both in the squad as scrum halves. Good to see Grove and Ansbro back in the mix alongside the young gun Scott. De Luca will no doubt prove a controversial selection as always.
This is of course Tim Visser’s first call up; Tom Brown, Tom Ryder, Ryan Grant and Rob Harley are also uncapped. The last four-named were among the Scotland A squad who put England Saxons to the sword 35-0 at Netherdale in February, while Visser, the 24-year-old Dutch born winger, will qualify for Scotland through the three-year residency rule on 12 June and will thus be available for selection for the Tests against Fiji and Samoa.
22-year-old Tom Brown, a product of North Berwick RFC and the Edinburgh Academy, who has also played club rugby for Currie, admitted: “It was a pretty tense day yesterday wondering if the call might come and when it did it was pretty overwhelming but I’m really looking forward to it.”
Welsh, Weir and Scott have a single cap each but this tour is a clear opportunity to earn a few more.
“One quarter of the squad has yet to start an international but we’ve seen from the manner in which Edinburgh and Glasgow have finished the domestic season that there’s confidence that we will be looking to build on” said coach Robinson at the announcement
Without further ado, here are the players due for a bruising down under:
Backs – Joe Ansbro (London Irish), Mike Blair, Tom Brown (both Edinburgh Rugby), Chris Cusiter (Glasgow Warriors), Nick De Luca (Edinburgh Rugby), Max Evans (Castres), Alex Grove (Worcester Warriors), Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors), Greig Laidlaw (Edinburgh Rugby), Sean Lamont (Scarlets), Matt Scott (Edinburgh Rugby), Tim Visser (Edinburgh Rugby) and Duncan Weir (Glasgow Warriors)
John Barclay (Glasgow Warriors), Geoff Cross, Ross Ford (captain) (both Edinburgh Rugby), Ryan Grant, Richie Gray, Dougie Hall, Robert Harley, Alastair Kellock (all Glasgow Warriors), Scott Lawson (Gloucester), Euan Murray (Newcastle Falcons), Ross Rennie (Edinburgh Rugby), Tom Ryder (Glasgow Warriors), Alasdair Strokosch (Gloucester), Richie Vernon (Sale Sharks) and Jon Welsh (Glasgow Warriors).
Unavailable through injury: Kelly Brown (Saracens), David Denton and Lee Jones (both Edinburgh Rugby)
Rested: Allan Jacobsen (Edinburgh Rugby)
Head coach – Andy Robinson
Assistant coach – Scott Johnson
Specialist coaches – Massimo Cuttitta and Duncan Hodge
Fitness, strength and conditioning – Neill Potts and Huw Jones
Team manager – Gavin Scott
Team operations co-ordinator – Kirsty Mackay
Medical – Dr James Robson, Dr Jonathan Hanson, Paul McGinley and Stephen Mutch
Analyst – Ciaran Beattie
Media – Graham Law
Baggage master – John Pennycuick
Squad departs: Thursday 24 May
Tuesday 5 June v Australia in Newcastle, NSW, kick-off 7.30pm local (10.30am BST)
Saturday 16 June v Fiji in Lautoka, kick-off 2pm local time (3am BST)
Saturday 23 June v Samoa in Apia, kick-off 3.30pm local time (3.30am BST).