Scotland under-19 head coach Colin Robertson has selected five Scottish Rugby Exiles in his starting line-up for the match against Italy at Lasswade on Sunday 1 March (kick off midday, free admission) and believes he has got the right blend in order to achieve a positive result.
Scrum half Alex Black (Leeds Carnegie), openside Callum Stidston-Knott (Harrow and London Wasps), lock Aaron Hall (Newcastle Falcons) and props Anthony Kent (London Wasps) and Andrew Fraser (Leeds Carnegie) have all been selected alongside 10 home-based players.
As a result, Robertson believes he has successfully meshed together the two groups which will stand the under-20 team of 2010 in good stead.
“He is a big lad and he brings some size to the back row. He has got potential and it will be interesting to see how physical he is against the Italians.”
In terms of measuring up physically, Robertson acknowledges the key area where Scotland will need to front up will be by dominating the set-piece.
He said: “We have done some homework on Italy’s age group sides and they are really developing their game – right across the field.
“But their biggest strength is still the set piece, so the scrum and line-out is going to be huge for us on Sunday and the breakdown is where international games are won or lost.
“We have worked on that quite a lot and we will be looking to show how far we have progressed against the Italians.”
After being appointed captain, lock Grant Gilchrist says the honour has been the highlight of his career so far and now wants to follow in same path as ex-Stirling County second row Al Kellock by eventually progressing through to Scotland’s senior team.
Gilchrist said: “Being made captain is the highlight of my career so far and I’m really looking forward to leading the team against Italy.
“I haven’t worked with Al (Kellock) that much so far, but I’ve been inspired by what he has achieved in the game.
“He started out at Stirling County and has gone on to captain Glasgow Warriors and play for Scotland. So I would love to follow in his footsteps.”
Scotland under-19 squad (team sponsor Martin Currie) to face Italy (Sunday 1 March, midday) at Lasswade:
15 Tom Brown+ (Edinburgh Academicals)
14 Douglas Fife (Currie)
13 Michael Tait* (Kelso)
12 James Johnstone* (Watsonians)
11 Max Learmonth (Watsonians)
10 Ross Aitken* (Howe of Fife)
9 Alex Black (Leeds Carnegie)
1 Anthony Kent (London Wasps)
2 Alun Walker (Currie)
3 Andrew Fraser (Leeds Carnegie)
4 Grant Gilchrist* (Stirling County) CAPTAIN
5 Aaron Hall (Newcastle Falcons)
6 Michael Maltman* (Musselburgh)
7 Callum Stidston-Knott (London Wasps)
8 Jason Hill* (Stirling County)
16 Nicky Little* (Hawick)
17 Mungo Strachan (Edinburgh Rugby)
18 Matthew Reid (Heriot’s)
19 Ross Sutherland (Murrayfield Wanderers)
20 Kris Hamilton (Caithness)
21 Matthew Scott (Currie)
22 Seumas Mackenzie (Murrayfield Wanderers)
+ denotes National Academy Contracted Player
*denotes National Academy Area Institute Supported Player
Not considered due to injury: Callum Connor (Manchester University), Robert Harley (West of Scotland)+, Alex Blair (Edinburgh Accies)+, Alex Dunbar (Selkirk)+.