Vern Cotter today announced the Scotland senior squad that will tour Japan in the summer for a two test series to be shown on the BBC. That it could be seen as developmental depends on how you view the opposition (just ask South Africa) and results could prove vital with a tough autumn schedule, especially if Argentina finally get their full team for a tour.
To that end Cotter has picked a 27-strong group for the matches at the Toyota Stadium in Toyota City (18 June) and the Ajinomoto Stadium in Tokyo (25 June). Only three players who didn’t play in the Six Nations have made the cut: Fraser Brown, Henry Pyrgos and Damien Hoyland.
Others who miss out include Duncan Weir and Matt Scott, although the sight of Alex Dunbar limping off against Connacht on Saturday may yet change things there. Cotter also confirmed that Mark Bennett has been left out to be allowed for consideration for the GB Sevens squad for the Rio Olympics. It’s also slightly jarring to see the name Lamont missing from the squad for the first in a long time, but Hoyland has earned his place for try scoring form; Matt Taylor will be working on his defence though.
There is an argument that John Hardie could have been rested given that he’s about the first name on the team sheet so his place will be safe in the autumn but has been playing top-flight rugby solidly since the start of the last Super Rugby season, and perhaps also WP Nel who has played 60+ in every Scotland game since the World Cup. However, given Grant Gilchrist’s continued absence, it’s about as strong a Scotland squad as you could pick at the moment and Cotter seems in no mood to experiment.
Scotland squad for tour of Japan:
Alasdair Dickinson, WP Nel, Moray Low, Rory Sutherland
Ross Ford, Stuart McInally, Fraser Brown
Jonny Gray, Richie Gray, Tim Swinson
John Barclay, David Denton, John Hardie, Josh Strauss, Ryan Wilson
Greig Laidlaw, Henry Pyrgos
Finn Russell, Ruaridh Jackson
Alex Dunbar, Peter Horne, Duncan Taylor
Damien Hoyland, Sean Maitland, Tommy Seymour, Tim Visser