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Scotland Name 5 Uncapped in Expanded Training Squad

Five uncapped players have been named today in a 41-strong Scotland squad for a training camp in Glasgow next week ahead of the viagogo Autumn Tests.

The quintet are Glasgow Warriors’ Mark Bennett, Jonny Gray and Chris Fusaro and the London Irish back-row pair of Kieran Low and Blair Cowan. While the London Irish pair may come a little out of left field, the Glasgow trio are rewarded for consistent displays this season. Fusaro’s return in particular is welcome news for those of us who yearned for a proper openside in Scotland colours last season, as is the return of John Barclay now playing at the Scarlets.

Another experienced campaigner to return is Chris Cusiter who has been used sparingly by Glasgow this season but looked impressive when he has played. Old hands Ross Ford, Max Evans and Nick De Luca return to the squad having been rested or injured in the summer.

All are in contention for Scotland’s matches against Japan (9 November), South Africa (17 November) and Australia (23 November).

The squad comprises 18 Glasgow Warriors players, 13 Exiles and ten from Edinburgh Rugby. The SRU was at pains to point out that twenty of the squad attended state school in Scotland, six went to private school in Scotland and 15 were educated outwith Scotland.

Scotland head coach Scott Johnson said: “This squad is about getting the job right for our upcoming Test matches but it’s also about the next 24 months as we build towards Rugby World Cup 2015.

“As I said during the tour we need and want to expand our playing pool and within that we have to be clear on which of our long-experienced players will make the journey to the World Cup.

“We have to make sure, too, that our young players, who have the ability to play international footy, get the mileage on the clock ahead of the World Cup.”

Which begs the question as to whether we might see more of a development XV for the Japan game with a more familiar side thrown straight in against the South Africans. Or if the mileage begins and ends with the training squad, at least until the A team reconvenes in the spring.

“This is the start of our A programme too and Shade Munro, who will coach the A team against England Saxons again when they come to Scotstoun in the New Year, will be at the training camp.”

Johnson described Bennett and Gray, both former Scotland under-20 captains as “quality athletes” and then explained the choice of the London Irish back-row players, 22-year-old Kieran Low and 27-year-old Blair Cowan.

“Low is a good, young player who is athletic and big enough to play at lock or blindside and we don’t have many players who can do that.

“One of the lessons from the South African tour, and especially given the attritional nature of the position, is that we must increase our back-row depth and compare the skills set of the players there.

“We know Ross Rennie is coming back to fitness and Chris Fusaro is an out and out 7. Cowan is a good, tough, energetic player who can play in every back-row position.”

Cowan qualifies for Scotland through his Dunoon-born mother, Joan, who is a keen triathlete in New Zealand. According to the London Irish website, the New Zealand born player is 6’2′ and weighs over 16 stones and is now EQP through residency. Woopsie, England.

Of his decision to opt for Scotland, Cowan said: “The Scottish side has always been a strong part of my family, my career really kicked off in Great Britain and Scotland’s always been the country, in my mind, that I wanted to represent.”

Low’s eligibility rests with a paternal grandfather, Wilfred Henry Low, who was born in Dingwall. Both players have had first team experience this season and scored a few tries too. Low has represented England at U18 and U20 level, making 31 appearances for London Irish including 22 appearances last season.

Mark Bennett, a product of St Joseph’s Academy in Cumnock, Cumnock RFC and Ayr RFC, before he became a professional, said: “It’s an honour to be selected for the squad.  What I have to do now is work even harder on my game with Glasgow Warriors and with the Scotland coaches in camp next week to have the chance to play for my country.”

If he continues to impress and cut nice lines scoring tries and with no real standout candidate for the 13 shirt, it could be a question of when not if he gets that chance.

Scotland squad for training camp in Glasgow (27-30 October) in preparation for viagogo Autumn Tests:


Mark Bennett (Glasgow Warriors) Age 20 Uncapped
Chris Cusiter (Glasgow Warriors) Age 31 Caps 62
Nick De Luca (Edinburgh Rugby) Age 29 Caps 38
Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors) Age 23 Caps 3
Max Evans (Castres) Age 30 Caps 35
Tom Heathcote (Bath Rugby) Age 21 Caps 3
Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow Warriors) Age 25 Caps 21
Sean Lamont (Glasgow Warriors) Age 32 Caps 79
Greig Laidlaw (Edinburgh Rugby) Age 28 Caps 21
Sean Maitland (Glasgow Warriors) Age 25 Caps 5
Henry Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors) Age 24 Caps 9
Matt Scott (Edinburgh Rugby) Age 23 Caps 15
Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors) Age 25 Caps 2
Duncan Taylor (Saracens) Age 24 Caps 3
Greig Tonks (Edinburgh Rugby) Age 24 Caps 1
Tim Visser (Edinburgh Rugby) Age 26 Caps 12
Duncan Weir (Glasgow Warriors) Age 22 Caps 5


John Barclay (Scarlets) Age 27 Caps 41
John Beattie (Montpellier) Age 27 Caps 24
Kelly Brown (Saracens) Age 31 Caps 58
Blair Cowan (London Irish) Age 27 Uncapped
Geoff Cross (Edinburgh Rugby) Age 30 Caps 22
David Denton (Edinburgh Rugby) Age 23 Caps 14
Alasdair Dickinson (Edinburgh Rugby) Age 30 Caps 27
Ross Ford (Edinburgh Rugby) Age 29 Caps 68
Chris Fusaro (Glasgow Warriors) Age 24 Uncapped
Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby) Age 23 Caps 3
Ryan Grant (Glasgow Warriors) Age 28 Caps 10
Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors) Age 19 Uncapped
Richie Gray (Castres) Age 24 Caps 31
Jim Hamilton (Montpellier) Age 30 Caps 48
Rob Harley (Glasgow Warriors) Age 23 Caps 5
Alastair Kellock (Glasgow Warriors) Age 32 Caps 55
Scott Lawson (Newcastle Falcons) Age 32 Caps 38
Kieran Low (London Irish) Age 22 Uncapped
Moray Low (Glasgow Warriors) Age 28 Caps 21
Pat MacArthur (Glasgow Warriors) Age 26 Cap 1
Euan Murray (Worcester Warriors) Age 33 Caps 56
Alasdair Strokosch (Perpignan) Age 30 Caps 35
Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors) Age 26 Caps 2
Jon Welsh (Glasgow Warriors) Age 27 Caps 2

Invited to train with squad: Stuart McInally and Ross Rennie (both Edinburgh Rugby)

Injured: Stuart Hogg, Peter Horne, Peter Murchie and Ryan Wilson (all Glasgow Warriors) and Steve Lawrie (Edinburgh Rugby)

11 Responses

  1. I was surprised to see that Mcguigan wasn’t included in the squad. He’s played well for The Warriors in pre season and league/cup, he probably offers more than Nick De Luca. Vernon and Holmes are other exclusions that I was surprised at and to a lesser extent Harry Leonard, he’s played a couple of hard games this season and shown he can handle it and we definitely need some more of this ‘strength in depth’ at fly half. Overall I’m impressed with the team, hopefully they can do better than last year.

  2. Agree with exclusion of Vernon. Seams a bit strange but generally a pretty strong squad. What ever happened to the chap ‘Grayson Hart’ who signed to Edinburgh? Has he arrived yet? Injured? Have not seen any coverage on him following the original news story.

  3. I think Vernon is too lightweight for test rugby and doesn’t have the physicality to live with top tier nations. We need to be aggressive at the break down and abrasive carrying the ball. Vernon is a fine player but is some way behind other players in these respects.

  4. Hart has turned out for Gala a couple of times but seems to be down the pecking order at Edin behind Laidlaw, Kennedy, Hidalgo Clyne. Vernon has been steady this season however I would still rate him behind Strauss at 8 for Glasgow, with Wilson still to come back. Beattie is one of the few players we have who could be world class and Denton has been playing very well in a poor team while Brown can also cover 8. Dougie Fife was another that had maybe done enough with evans past his best?

    1. Only seen him briefly but I thought Hidalgo-Clyne looked pretty good and one for the future. Quite surprised given the amount of grief chucked at him over at the Scotsman BTL.

  5. He has looked sharp in the brief appearances he has made. Great skill set with a nice left boot and slick service. Considering he has only been at 9 for a realtively short period he is definitely one for the future. I imagine he will overtake Pyrgos in the not too distant future.

  6. Why pick de Luca ? What a waste of selection , he’s had loads of chances to prove himself over the years and has yet to put in a decent performance for Scotland. Will have a negative effect on the upcoming young players in training because he’s so rubbish

  7. What does Fife have to do to get a selection? He is consistently one of the bright spots in a dire Edinburgh side, and is continually overlooked for past it players like Evans.

  8. Good looking squad , I think the answer to those asking about Leonard , Fyfe and McGuigan is that none of them are good enough yet.
    They may improve with game time but at the moment none of them are standing out in the pro 12.

  9. Have some of Newcastle based players been forgotten. Mainly thinking Ally Hogg and Fraser McKenzie although there is some strength at 8 and lock. Also there is Neil Cochrane, hooker at Wasps, a position we are short of options in. My main concern is cover for Ryan Grant…

    Also the forwards in general are looking a bit old although everyone in the squad should be available for the WC still.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion