Scotland under-19 head coach Bob McKillop has named Stirling County stand-off Stuart Edwards as captain of the team that will face Italy under-19s in Parabiago on Saturday (3 April, kick off 1.30pm UK time) and he believes the two-match programme will benefit the overall development of his squad.
Edwards – a highly-rated young playmaker – follows in the footsteps of Stirling team-mate Grant Gilchrist who led Scotland’s under-19 side last year and McKillop believes the 18-year-old has the ideal skill-set to captain the team.
McKillop said: “He is a very clear communicator and clear thinker. He is somebody who has caught on very quickly to the things that we are trying to achieve on the pitch.
“I’m very confident Stuart will put into practice the things that we have been working hard on.
“With everything we have thrown at the squad they have caught on very quickly. There are some very good leaders in the squad who talk very well.”
Edwards will start in a back line containing Duncan Weir, who has recently agreed a professional deal with Glasgow Warriors, and wing Michael Doneghan, who scored a try for Gael Force in the British and Irish Cup.
After the match in northern Italy, Scotland under-19 will face France under-19s at Braidholm the following weekend (Sunday, 11 April, kick off 2pm).
McKillop says the key goal from the 160 minutes of international rugby is to help prepare the players for the demands of the under-20 programme the following year.
He added: “The main objective from the two-game programme is that we want to win both matches. But also in the longer term we want to prepare these players for the under-20 programme which is a huge year in their development.
“The fixtures may be limited, but I believe this is a very important part of their educations as rugby players.
“There has been a lot of competition for places and selection of this team has not been easy – there have been lots of lengthy discussions.
“They are a good group of guys and they know what they want to get out of this programme. I’m sure they are going to work hard for each other in order to achieve those goals.”
Scotland under-19 team to play Italy under-19 at Parabiago (Saturday 3 April, kick off 2.30pm local time, 1.30pm UK time)
15 Glenn Bryce (Stirling County)
14 Michael Doneghan (Stewart’s Melville FP)*
13 Danny Gilmour (Stirling County)**
12 Duncan Weir (Glasgow Hawks)**
11 Kerr Gossman (Glasgow Hawks)
10 Stuart Edwards (captain, Stirling County)
9 Stevie Turnbull (Hamilton)
1 Nick Fraser (Boroughmuir)
2 David Cherry (Edinburgh Academicals)
3 Steve Quigley (Hull Ionians)
4 Blair McPherson (Ayr)
5 Robert McAlpine (West of Scotland)**
6 James Tyas (Brighton College)
7 Robbie Boswell (Stirling County)
8 Cammy Orr (Boroughmuir)
Substitutes: Richard Ferguson (Melrose), Duncan Morrison (North Walsham), Chris Keen (Kelso), Andrew Kirkland (Glasgow Hawks)**, Lewis Crosbie (Dunfermline), Jamie Forbes (Watsonians), Craig Jackson (Melrose)**.