Club International squad begin season preparations

A strong 41-man squad has been named for the Scotland Club International side that will, once again, play two fixtures in February and March against Ireland and France.

Greg Cottrell (Hawick) in Club International squad for first timePlayers from nine of the RBS Premiership clubs have been called up, including a series of Scottish Rugby’s elite development players. 16 players return from the initial squad last year.

These are Nick Cox, Alex Allan, Ewan McQuillin, Murray Douglas, Andrew Nagle, Jason Hill, Gary Graham, Jamie Swanson, George Graham, Peter Jericevich, Stuart Edwards, Craig Gossman, Dean Kelbrick, Max Learmonth, Cameron Ferguson and Fraser Thomson. Cox is the only one of this group yet to be capped.

Head coach, Phil Leck, said: “We have started to plan for our matches a little earlier than we did last year. Running the Club International programme can be difficult at times with players committed to jobs and playing in the Premiership and British & Irish Cup, but all these things make it an exciting challenge.

“We have selected an initial squad that we can bring together and work on a game plan with and then as we train and play we can look at who puts their hand up.

“I think we managed to create a quick and exciting style of rugby that was attractive to watch last season, I’m keen to develop that again.

“Our ultimate aim is to move from one win in 2013 to two in 2014. We can learn lessons from the game in France last year, that will hopefully allows us to step up to their level and compete with them.

“I have not selected a captain at this stage. Mark Cairns, who led the side this year, is unable to be involved so in the next few weeks we’ll look at a selection of players we believe can be Mark’s successor and lead the team throughout our campaign.”

The coaching group will remain the same for 2014 with Leck being joined by Stirling County head coach, Graeme Young, as assistant. Scottish Rugby’s Regional Development Manager for the Highlands and Islands, Brian Bell comes in as team manager.

As well as a weekly training session the side will under take a trial game on Monday 6 January, this will be followed by a warm-up game with Scotland under-20 on Wednesday 22 January and then the official fixtures will be played on Friday 7 February against Ireland in Cork and then Friday 7 March at Old Anniesland, Glasgow, against France Federale.

2014 Scotland Club International squad:

Props

Nick Cox (Ayr), *George Hunter (Ayr / Glasgow Warriors), Rory Sutherland (Gala), *Alex Allan  (Edinburgh Accies / Edinburgh Rugby), *Ewan McQuillin (Gala / Edinburgh Rugby) and Struan Cessford (Aberdeen Grammar).

Hookers

Lindsey Gibson (Hawick), *Fergus Scott (Ayr / Glasgow Warriors), *George Turner (Heriot’s / Edinburgh Rugby) and Richard Ferguson (Melrose).

Second-rows

Murray Douglas (Heriot’s), Callum Templeton (Ayr), Russell Nimmo (Heriot’s), *Andy Redmayne (Glasgow Hawks / Glasgow Warriors) and Angus Hamilton (Glasgow Hawks).

Back-rows

Peter Eccles (Melrose), Andrew Nagle (Melrose), Grant Runciman (Melrose) and *Will Bordill (Stirling County / Glasgow Warriors), Jason Hill (Heriot’s), Gary Graham (Gala) and Jamie Swanson (Stirling County).

Half-backs

Greg Cottrell (Hawick), George Graham (Gala), Peter Jericevich (Ayr), Richard Mill (Melrose), *Finn Russell (Ayr / Glasgow Warriors) and Stuart Edwards (Stirling County).

Centres

Dean Kelbrick (Ayr), Ally Maclay (Glasgow Hawks), *Jack Steele (Glasgow Hawks / Glasgow Warriors), Max Learmonth (Heriot’s), Cameron Ferguson (Heriot’s), *Chris Auld (Gala / Edinburgh Rugby) and Keith Buchan (Heriot’s).

Back-three

Nyle Godsmark (Edinburgh Accies), Grant Sommerville (Gala), Craig Gossman (Ayr), Erland Oag (Aberdeen Grammar), *Rory Hughes (Stirling County / Glasgow Warriors) and Fraser Thomson (Melrose)

*Denotes Scottish Rugby Elite Development Player