Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


New Faces in Scotland Training Squad

Scotland Logo © SRU - used with permission

Ten uncapped players have been named in interim head coach Scott Johnson’s first Scotland training squad of 35, to attend a three day training camp in Glasgow.

Nine of the uncapped are from Glasgow Warriors, five of whom make their first appearance in this level of squad. In all, there are 19 players from the Glasgow Warriors side that currently sits in second place in the RaboDirect PRO12 league.  The squad is completed by nine Exiles and seven from Edinburgh Rugby.

The uncapped players are: full-back Peter Murchie, in form wings Sean Maitland and Tommy Seymour, centres Alex Dunbar and Peter Horne, scrum-half Sean Kennedy, hooker Pat MacArthur, lock Grant Gilchrist and back-row forwards Ryan Wilson and Chris Fusaro.

Scott Johnson said: “We’ve chosen this squad with two parameters uppermost in our minds: current form and looking to the future.

“Where two players have been vying for the one spot in areas such as the back-row, we’ve gone with the form option.” The result of this is the likes of Fusaro, Wilson and Montpellier’s Johnnie Beattie have been brought into the fold and previous certainties like David Denton now find their place under threat.

“This squad is for our training camp in Glasgow next week and we still have the option to add to it for the Six Nations.”

The five brand new faces are 21-year-old Kennedy, an age-grade and Scotland 7s internationalist, has looked sharp at both Glasgow and Stirling.

Sean Maitland, the 24-year-old New Zealand born wing, who qualifies for Scotland through parental grandparents born in Glasgow, was signed from Canterbury Crusaders in October and has already made a considerable impact at Scotstoun. It was only a matter of time before he made it in given his pedigree.

Pat MacArthur, 25, nurtured by the Ayr club and benefiting from the competition with Dougie Hall, is another to progress from age-grade honours and many see him as a long term challenger to Ross Ford.

Fusaro is potentially the most exciting addition if he can bring his scorching club performances to the international stage and injuries to Barclay and Rennie (and the absence of our pick Roddy Grant) give him a real chance as the only specialist openside. Alasdair Strokosch (Perpignan) will miss the camp for family reasons as his wife is expecting their second child, but he should be included for the Six Nations in some capacity.

There are recalls for in form No 8 Johnnie Beattie on the back of a handful of recent Man of the Match performances, and Richie Vernon, Alasdair Dickinson, Moray Low, Robert Harley and Duncan Weir who were not involved during the recent disappointment of the EMC Tests.

Scotland squad for training camp in Glasgow (January 20-23) ahead of RBS 6 Nations Championship:

Backs: Peter Murchie*, Stuart Hogg, Sean Maitland*, Tommy Seymour*, Sean Lamont (all Glasgow Warriors), Tim Visser (Edinburgh Rugby), Max Evans (Castres), Matt Scott (Edinburgh Rugby), Alex Dunbar* Peter Horne*, Duncan Weir, Ruaridh Jackson (all Glasgow Warriors), Tom Heathcote (Bath Rugby), Henry Pyrgos, Sean Kennedy* (both Glasgow Warriors) and Greig Laidlaw (Edinburgh Rugby).

Forwards: Alasdair Dickinson (Sale Sharks), Ryan Grant, Dougie Hall, Pat MacArthur* (all Glasgow Warriors), Ross Ford (Edinburgh Rugby), Euan Murray (Worcester Warriors), Geoff Cross (Edinburgh Rugby), Moray Low, Alastair Kellock (both Glasgow Warriors), Richie Gray (Sale Sharks), Jim Hamilton (Gloucester), Grant Gilchrist* (Edinburgh Rugby), Kelly Brown (Saracens), Robert Harley, Ryan Wilson* (both Glasgow Warriors), Johnnie Beattie (Montpellier), David Denton (Edinburgh Rugby), Richie Vernon (Sale Sharks), Chris Fusaro* (Glasgow Warriors).

* = Uncapped.

Invited to be with the squad as they recover from injury: Chris Cusiter, John Barclay and Jon Welsh (all Glasgow Warriors) Nick De Luca and Ross Rennie (both Edinburgh Rugby) and Scott Lawson (London Irish).

15 Responses

  1. Both surprise inclusions and exclusions in this squad.

    Inclusions – Johnston as good as his word in terms of looking to the future with Sean Kennedy, but he has looked the biz in his fleeting appearances for Glasgow this season, and is likely to be the long-term successor at some point. Good to see Tom Heathcote included again, he is still young and has shown enough at Bath to convince me he has the raw abilities (he’s way better than Stephen Donald ‘Duck’), and equally Peter Horne is likely getting a nod for a substantial improvement over the last 12 months. Likewise pleased that Tommy Seymour has been included, very deserving, and Maitland was basically a gimme for the squad (very good performance in defence against Ulster at the weekend). Great to have a rampaging Johnnie Beattie back in the fold too.


    Slightly surprised that Alex Grove has been overlooked, and thought that Greig Tonks might have been invited for the experience ahead of Murchie – neither at this level yet, but it strikes me that Tonks is more likely to get there eventually. Must be the end of the roads for the Lawsons too, Rory and Scott.

    Lucky devils

    Ali Dickinson and his Sale colleague Richie Vernon have never convinced me at international level, and both seem pretty lucky to be included.

  2. Don’t disagree with Kennedy being involved but isn’t it indicative of the underlying problem in Scottish rugby that we aren’t able to pick 3 scrum halves at the moment who are playing full time rugby. Even Pyrgos is sharing the scum halfing duties at Glasgow and Laidlaw has only been playing scrum half recently for Edinburgh. Kennedy has essentially been playing amateur rugby all season.

    We need a 3rd pro side, end of story.

  3. Kennedy is worth his spot, he will be replacing Cusiter at all levels. Got to say some names are only there to give a 35 man training squad,but I hope some of the ” new generation ” will get the nod for match day. Beattie has got in on the back of a great season in France and if he can do it there he must start against England

  4. With 3 years to go before the next World Cup I would have thought the focus should be entirely on getting as many wins as possible, not player development. Murchie and Kennedy are admirable young players but I think that Hugo Southwell and Rory Lawson are still well ahead of them. There is a particularly strong case for Southwellwith his defensive strength as the likely wings and 13 (Visser, Maitland and Sean Lamont) are not being selected for their defensive reputations. I would also have brought in Gordon Ross as a very steady No. 10, as Laidlaw is going to scrum half.

  5. Ray- Vernon is in fantastic form for Sale, and would be a great impact player. He’s scoring tries and is part of a very good Sale back row in an under performing team, just like Rennie, Denton and McInally, though his form is greater than any of theirs this year.

    I’d love to see Murchie come in at full back with Hoggy moving to 13. We’ve lacked depth of runners for some time, and both run tremendous lines and have a great step. I’m also glad to see Jackson, Weir and Heathcote all picked as it indicates Laidlaw will go back to 9, where he belongs really.

    Finally Fusaro makes a squad, I’ll be very disappointed if the most consistent and abrasive flanker in the Pro Direct doesn’t make it into the starting IX at some point. Size doesn’t matter with the lad, he is just too good at the breakdown to ignore.

    I’m a weegie fan, and this may shine through in this post, but in general I’m glad our young guys who’ve been in rare form for 2 years now are being given an opportunity, particularly with the Gunners in such poor shape. For some reason many fans seemed quick to clamour for Brown, Jones and Scott when they had little experience, but are then citing that lack of experience as a reason to ignore Murchie, Horne and Pyrgos.

  6. Is Kelly Brown still captain? I’d like to see Kellock get the captaincy, he’s the best leader in the squad and considering the amount of Warriors it would be beneficial to have a captain they’re familiar with. I’m a bit disappointed that Greig Tonks hasn’t been included, he’s been one of the best players in a poor Edinburgh team. I’d be quite happy if Nick De Luca didn’t recover in time, I’ve only ever seen him perform well on the summer tour this year. I wish Joe Ansbro wasn’t injured as critically as he is, we missed his attacking skill last six nations, I just hope he recovers soon.

  7. No Roddy Grant what are they thinking? IMO Fusaro should rightly be first choice but with doubts over Fusaro fitness its a bit of a risk.

    No Hugo Southwell thank f***. He is a good club player but has never ever cut it at international level and would be a huge step backwards. Hogg has as good a boot and is a better runner than Southwell ever was. Grove has never done it for me either Dunbar a much better option.

    Overall a very good selection

  8. InsideArm, a spoof post surely?! You’re going backwards and citing players who won’t be there at the world cup – so you’ve won your matches (I have my doubts already) but failed to develop the future players. Johnson and Ryan have got it spot on – apart from omitting Roddy Grant, though this is just a 3-day training camp. There’s still time for him to come in.

  9. Grant Ford Murray Gray Hamilton Brown Fusaro Beattie Laidlaw Heathcoate Visser Scott Lamont Maitland Hogg

    MacArthur Cross Low Kellock Denton Evans Jackson Pyrgos

  10. Grant McArthur Murray Gray Harley Denton Fusaro Beattie

    Laidlaw Heathcote Visser Scott Hogg Seymour/Maitland Murchie

  11. Grant, Ford, Murray, Gray, Hamiliton, Brown, Fusaro, Beattie, Laidlaw, Jackson, Visser, Scott, Dunbar, Maitland, Hogg

    MacArthur, Low, Cross, Gilchrist, Denton, Pyrgos, Heathcote, Lamont

    3 new caps starting and 2 on the bench. Some optimisim returning having seen the squad (comparison with the welsh squad gives real optimisim). Glad see picking on form my only thought is have they taken a blanket approach to exclude English Championship players. Prop coverage is a bit weak beyond Low, Murray and Grant (Cross hasn’t been playing much lately although he weas very good against NZ) and Rory Lawson was surely worth an invite. Controversial, but I think leadership aside Al Kellock isn’t good enough for the bench (his penalty count is to high for my liking).

  12. Just how big a ‘changing of the guard’ this squad represents can be seen in the squad you can pick of international players NOT SELECTED here who are still playing pro rugby:
    H Southwell (Wasps); N Walker (Worcs) J Ansbro (LI) G Morrison (Glas)R Lamont (Glas); D Parks (Conn) M Blair (Brive); A Jacobsen (Ed) S Lawson (LI) E Kalman (Glas) S Murray (MdM) N Hines (Clerm) S Taylor (Bath) A Hogg (New)J Barclay (Glas);
    R Lawson (New) G Ross (LW)B Cairns (Ed)B Douglas (Bristol) K Traynor (Bristol)S MacLeod (New)R Rennie (Ed)
    I’ve only had to pick Scott Lawson, John Barclay and Ross Rennie from among the injured group named to get a full squad. The times they are a changing.

    1. A good sign indeed. Moody, what do you think of the young Finn Russell. I have heard people mention his name and decided to read up on him on the Ayr rugby website. It seems he is a solid stand-off and very reliable with the boot. I was pleasantly surprised to find out he is only 19! Why do you think that he does not, at least, have and EDP contract? Do you think we should expect to see that next season?

  13. Very refreshed by the squad selection and the interview with SJ I read online. While it will come down to the syle of game to be played I am feeling a positive vibe for the first time in a long time. A good open move by SJ

    If nothing else, Something is being done instead of the same old same old – now to see what tactics, shapes and systems will come with it

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion