With Greig Laidlaw called up at the weekend to fill the Lions spot left after Ben Youngs sadly had to pull out due to family illness, the first big call Gregor Townsend had to make as Scotland coach was at captain. John Barclay was the obvious remaining candidate given his stewardship during latter stages of the Six Nations so there is some leadership continuity from the Vern Cotter era.
One name left out in the cold by Cotter was Ruaridh Jackson, but the Harlequins standoff/fullback earns a recall over Duncan Weir perhaps with versatility in mind – he’s listed as a fullback/wing. Pete Horne has been selected as the backup standoff.
Elsewhere in the backs, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne did enough at the weekend to fill the third scrum-half spot and there’s a thoroughly deserved call up for Warriors centre Nick Grigg who adds to the depth in that area alongside a beefy trio of Alex Dunbar, Matt Scott and Duncan Taylor.
In the pack, D’arcy Rae is perhaps the bolter with no space for Simon Berghan in the props. Al Dickinson and Rory Sutherland will both sit this one out and George Turner shows perhaps why Cockerill had an eye on him as the uncapped Edinburgh hooker joins the tour as another surprise.
Some noticeable names miss out alongside Weir, including Dave Denton, Cornell du Preez, Grant Gilchrist, Rory Hughes and Adam Ashe. Young Scott Cummings is perhaps unlucky but with both Gray boys perhaps still on Gatland’s radar neither he nor Gilchrist should get the swimming trunks on just yet.
In the back row the usual suspects mean no room for Jamie Ritchie or the likes of Bristol/Northampton’s Mitch Eadie, but Magnus Bradbury has been passed fit as has Ryan Wilson. Both of the Edinburgh opensides will tour, with the back row mix hard to predict at this stage.
Here’s the squad:
Alex Allan (Glasgow Warriors) – 3 caps
Allan Dell (Edinburgh Rugby) – 8 caps
Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) – 9 caps
Willem Nel (Edinburgh Rugby) – 15 caps
D’Arcy Rae (Glasgow Warriors) – uncapped
Gordon Reid (Glasgow Warriors) – 24 caps
Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) – 25 caps
Ross Ford (Edinburgh Rugby) – 107 caps
George Turner (Edinburgh Rugby) – uncapped
Richie Gray (Toulouse) – 64 caps
Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors) – 33 caps
Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors) – 29 caps
Ben Toolis (Edinburgh Rugby) – 1 cap
CAPTAIN John Barclay (Scarlets) – 60 caps
Magnus Bradbury (Edinburgh Rugby) – 1 cap
John Hardie (Edinburgh Rugby) – 15 caps
Rob Harley (Glasgow Warriors) – 19 caps
Josh Strauss (Glasgow Warriors) – 11 caps
Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby) – 10 caps
Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors) – 27 caps
Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (Edinburgh Rugby) – 9 caps
Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) – 5 caps
Henry Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors) – 21 caps
Pete Horne (Glasgow Warriors) – 23 caps
Finn Russell (Glasgow Warriors) – 27 caps
Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors) – 24 caps
Nick Grigg (Glasgow Warriors) – uncapped
Matt Scott (Gloucester) – 37 caps
Duncan Taylor (Saracens) – 18 caps
Damien Hoyland (Edinburgh Rugby) – 2 caps
Ruaridh Jackson (Harlequins) – 30 caps
Lee Jones (Glasgow Warriors) – 4 caps
Sean Maitland (Saracens) – 28 caps
Tim Visser (Harlequins) – 31 caps
Here’s a possible starting side based on that lot:
Maitland, Hoyland, Taylor, Dunbar, Visser, Russell, Price; Reid, Brown, Nel, Gray, Gray, Barclay (c), Watson, Strauss
Bench: Dell, Ford, Fagerson, Swinson, Hardie, Pyrgos, Horne, Grigg
UPDATE: Sean Maitland is apparently out of the remainder of the season with ankle ligament damage. We await word on a replacement, if there is to be one.