Gregor Townsend pulled a few rabbits out of hats – let’s not mention the World Cup 2015 training camp incident again, Richie Gray’s back in the squad – as he announced his 35-man squad for the 2021 Six Nations, with a 20-15 split forwards to backs split.
Four uncapped players make the squad: hookers David Cherry and Ewan Ashman are drafted in with both Stuart McInally and Fraser Brown suffering from neck injuries; Gloucester lock Alex Craig; and perhaps most intriguingly and excitingly; Bath’s Cameron Redpath, who had previously been called up by England in 2018 only to suffer a knee injury.
The son of former Scotland scrum-half Bryan Redpath, the Bath centre has been in fine form this season and has been selected ahead of the likes of Sam Johnson and Rory Hutchinson as a candidate for the inside centre position.
Redpath will face competition from new Edinburgh capture James Lang, and Duncan Taylor, who will be in somewhat of a race against time to face England on 6th February seeing as he failed a head injury assessment playing for Saracens at Ealing on 16th January.
Huw Jones is listed as a centre but will most likely provide bench cover in a number of positions, with Chris Harris the current incumbent at 13.
Byron McGuigan returns among the outside backs, joined by the familiar Edinburgh Rugby faces of Darcy Graham, Blair Kinghorn, and Duhan van der Merwe; Sean Maitland; and captain Stuart Hogg.
Resources are a bit bare at half-back: Ali Price and Scott Steele are the only recognised scrum-halves with Finn Russell and Jaco van der Walt the only two stand-offs.
Grant Stewart returns to provide a fourth hooker option, with George Turner likeliest to fill the Rambo-Brown gap as starting hooker, Allan Dell comes in in place of Jamie Bhatti, and “Beard To Be Feared: Mark 2” Gary Graham rewarded for his form with Newcastle, providing a new option for the troublesome no:8 jersey.
Richie Gray’s fleeting but impressive performances for Glasgow see him earn a recall, but there’s no room for Sam Skinner (injured?), or Magnus Bradbury in the back-row.
Backs: Darcy Graham, Chris Harris, Stuart Hogg (Captain),
Huw Jones, Blair Kinghorn, James Lang Sean Maitland,
Byron McGuigan, Ali Price, Cameron Redpath*, Finn Russell,
Scott Steele, Duncan Taylor, Jaco van der Walt,
Duhan van der Merwe
Forwards: Ewan Ashman*, Simon Berghan, David Cherry*,
Alex Craig*, Scott Cummings, Allan Dell, Matt Fagerson,
Zander Fagerson, Gary Graham, Grant Gilchrist, Jonny Gray, Richie Gray, Oli Kebble, Willem Nel, Jamie Ritchie, Grant Stewart, Rory Sutherland, Blade Thomson, George Turner, Hamish Watson
*denotes uncapped player