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).